Following a month long movement to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from sanitary products, Friday 14th August saw a nation wide rally calling on state and territory treasurers to remove the ‘tampon tax’. The ACT rally took place in front of the Legislative Assembly Building in Civic.
With each of the rallies in state capital cities around the country held at similar times, ACT Campaign Organiser Rashna Farrukh said “the fact that the rally was held across Australia really sends a strong message to treasurers who haven’t come out to support us.”
“Through our united front, they saw that Australians think this tax is unfair, and that we want it gone”, she stated.
Currently, Australian women spend close to $300 million on sanitary products, which, unlike condoms, lubricants, and sunscreen, are not considered ‘necessary’. This makes them not exempt from the 10% GST.
Loren Ovens, Women’s Department Officer for the ANU Students’ Association (ANUSA), gave the first speech at the rally, stating that the presence “showed that we aren’t embarrassed.”
“We’re not going to let stigma around menstruation stop us from creating political change around this issue”, she pronounced.
“We already get paid less, especially women of certain intersectionalities – why do we then also have to pay more for things that are necessities?”
The ACT Minister for Women, Yvette Berry, backed up these sentiments.
“Decisions about women affect women, but are made when women aren’t in the room”, Berry said.
“Between tampons and washing machines, modern sanitation has done as much for women’s workforce and social participation as the contraceptive pill has.”
The event brought together activists from across Canberra, echoing the nation wide movement, with ANU, UC and CSU students all lending their voice.
“This campaign is important as it is a bold show of modern feminism. This tax is blatant evidence of how being a woman is a disadvantage”, said CSU student Ashlee Spears.
In a joint media release from the ACT, Victorian, Queensland and Victorian governments, the Labor treasurers “confirmed that they will seek to have the GST removed on sanitary products”, at next week’s Council of Federal Financial Relations in Canberra.
Rashna Farrukh is a Woroni Editor