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Social issues

The Tampon Tax

– by Tamra Carr

Activists cry gender inequality from all corners of our society, with common complaints ranging from the portrayal of women in the media, to severe human rights violations in the third world. While many instances of western disadvantage is debatable, there is no denying the blatant disregard for women’s needs under the taxation system of the Australian government.

Simmering just under the label of ‘big news’ the tampon tax in Australia has been a controversial issue ever since the Howard government introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2000 and refused to add female sanitation products to the list of exempt items. Why? They were deemed a luxury item.

Critics have rightfully argued that menstruation is not a luxury. Bothersome symptoms include acne, irritability, bloating and most famously, the dreaded mood swings. The public should disparage the logic that dictates condoms and lubricant as GST free because of their health benefits, but not a product that aids in the hygiene of millions of menstruating Australian women.

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Still, the issue continues to be pushed aside by our elected officials in Canberra. Most recently Prime Minister Tony Abbott was quick to do some damage control after comments Treasurer Joe Hockey made that sounded as if the government was finally going to fix the problem.

“It’s certainly not something that this Government has a plan to do,” Mr Abbott said.

Abbott’s reluctance to remove the tax has matched the lacklustre efforts made by six years of Labor government following the defeat of the Liberal Party in 2007. Cutting cords with $30 million in revenue the 10 per cent flat tax rakes in has been a problem nobody has been keen to tackle, despite an online petition garnering over one hundred thousand signatures.

Advocates that want female sanitation products to qualify for GST exemption are armed with a strong argument about why these are essential items. It is not only a step forward to admit that they are, but also a necessary move for the government to make an important recognition of women’s needs in Australia.
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Photo Credits: Featured Image by Ejinsight; No Tampon Tax Image by The Examiner; Stop Taxing my Period Image by Daily Mail Blog 

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