Since the year 2000, every menstruating Australian has been taxed every few weeks when they get their period. This week the Australian senate had the opportunity to abolish the 10% tax on all sanitary items but instead voted to keep it.
It was the Howard government who introduced the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) back in 2000. At the time sanitary items such as pads and tampons were not considered ‘essential’ health items and deemed luxury items and therefore not exempt from GST.
This week the Coalition and Labor agreed to introduce GST to imported items worth less than $1,000, such as items bought from international sellers on ebay. This new tax, which is part of the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017, is expected to raise $300 million in revenue over three years.
The Australian Greens party took this opportunity to propose an amendment and suggested that this new revenue could cover the cost of removing the tax on all sanitary items including tampons.
The Liberals and Labor just voted down a Greens amendment to axe the tampon tax. What a bloody disgrace. pic.twitter.com/FZRVo6Uy8X— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) June 19, 2017
Greens Senator Larissa Waters proposed the amendment, which was opposed by both major parties.
"It is a sexist tax that applies only to women," Waters told the ABC.
This is not the first time the government have voted against removing the tax.
There have been many protests and petitions since the tax was introduced calling on the government to remove it but there has been no change.
Sydney university student Subeta Vimalarajah created the ‘stop taxing my period!’ campaign, which has now reached over 100,000 signatures. Vimalarajah famously appeared on TV program Q&A back in 2015 with a giant tampon calling on the government to stop taxing a “bodily function”.
Her concerns were directed to panelist Joe Hockey who was the Treasurer at the time. In response he agreed to instigate a new conversation about removing the tax for what he agreed were ‘essential’ items. Nothing came of it.
The petition asks, “And how can a bodily function be taxed? Because the government doesn't consider the tampons and pads we're forced to buy every few weeks 'necessary' enough to be GST-free."
"On the other hand, condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches are all tax-free because they are classed as important health goods. But isn't the reproductive health and hygiene of 10 million Australians important too?”
After the vote to keep a tax on tampons Senator Waters stated that she would continue to push for a removal of the GST on sanitary items.
"Labor and the Coalition voted today to keep taxing women's biology. Periods are not a luxury, and sanitary items are not luxury items — they are necessities."
"Revenue loss is no longer a credible excuse for refusing to axe the sexist tampon tax," Waters said after the vote, according to The Huffington Post.
Labor Senator Katy Gallagher reportedly said her party supported the removal of the tax but this proposed amendment to the bill was not the way to go about it.
While women continue to protest around the country about how their periods are certainly not ‘luxurious’ there is still hope that this tax that targets women will come to an end. One day. Maybe.