The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

When Supermarkets Are More Aware Of What Women Want Than The Government

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 2, 2009

One of my – and I’m sure many other Australians’, female and male – biggest bugbears is the fact that the Rudd Government has flatly refused to remove the GST on women’s sanitary products that was brought in approximately fifty thousand years earlier by the Howard Government when the GST was introduced to Australia. Their refusal to bin, as my friend Mel called it on Twitter, “the world’s stupidest and most sexist tax” suggests that there are people in the Rudd Government who honestly believe that tampons and pads are monthly “luxury” items and not feminine hygiene essentials.

Well, I never thought I’d live to see the day that a supermarket chain drew attention to the idiocy of the ‘tampon tax’ – which it’s worth adding is nearing its 10th birthday – in a marketing campaign: Coles will be “paying” the GST on all women’s essentials for the next week as one of their specials. I spotted a television ad during morning tele today, and here’s the word-up from Coles’ website (emphasis mine), in this instance regarding Carefree liners (though all sanitary items are included in the special):

You shouldn’t be taxed for being a woman. Coles will pay the GST to the government for all feminine hygiene products bought in our stores, so that you don’t have to.

It’s a shame that the special only lasts for the next week, but in terms of a statement made within an economic climate and retail industry that generally wants women to spend as much as they possibly can (or perhaps more correctly, can’t – hello credit cards) on anything and everything, I find it quite revolutionary. Sure, it’s a marketing ploy – they want you to spend your dollars at Coles – but the fact that they are also willing to highlight the ridiculous nature of the ‘tampon tax’ in the meantime is heartening and suggests that, unlike our Government, someone high up in Coles is actually listening to what Australian women want. (If you’d like to send Coles a thumbs-up, you can do so here.)

So, for the nth time, Prime Minister Rudd and Mr Swan: WHY ARE WOMEN STILL BEING TAXED FOR GETTING THEIR PERIODS?

Update at 12.30pm: here’s the catalogue page, too, in all its newsprinty glory:

Picture 61

Can we say it’s a small handful of loose change, but one giant change for womankind?


12 Responses to “When Supermarkets Are More Aware Of What Women Want Than The Government”

  1. Penelope said

    I received an offensively glib reply from the ATO when I wrote to complain about this tax recently.

    I recommend avoiding the whole rigmarole and opting for a menstrual cup instead. No more GST for tampons ever again!

    • katarina said

      What did the ATO say to you, Penelope?
      I considered buying a menstrual cup, but I was put off by the website which justified the 70-dollar price tag by saying you’d pay much more than that over the lifetime of the product of you had to buy tampons and pads instead. That may be true, but it doesn’t explain the cost.

  2. lilacsigil said

    I have PCOS and this leads to, in my case, astoundingly heavy periods. I always thought I’d have to stick with commercial products, but this is not true! I’ve been wearing re-usable cloth pads from Nice Knickers on Etsy, and they’re BETTER at dealing with my massive, blobby periods than the disposable products. Not to mention that I had a 6-week long period (since medically treated) with the cloth pads and I didn’t get any chafing whatsoever. Perfect comfort, environmentally friendly and no GST.

  3. Destructor said

    I think a day of national public insubordination should be organized. Everyone in the country that supports abolishing this tax (which must surely be everyone) should steal a packet of feminine hygeine products and then mail it to the Parliament building in Canberra, or throw it at the parliament building in their own state.

  4. Brad said

    Wow. That is tres impressive, Coles.

  5. […] When Supermarkets Are More Aware Of What Women Want Than The Government […]

  6. berryblade said

    To be quite honest I didn’t honestly even know they taxed my plugs and pads. What the hell? I am so fucking glad I spent that seemingly exuberant amount of money on a Diva Cup now; the government won’t get any of my money for my monthlies ever again.

    What a crock of shit.

  7. Gae Fenske said

    The other one that makes me as mad as a cut snake:

    In a country that has the highest rate of Melanoma and other skin cancers — why tax sunscreen?

    The ‘tampon tax’ used to annoy me, too. But for me thoses days are long gone.

  8. Steph said

    I think if we all went without pads or tampons when we have our period and take public transport, deliberately staining the seats, they might start to take notice.

    But then again, PT seats are rarely clean…
    Maybe we could just send the government our drycleaning bills?

  9. lauredhel said

    Gae Fenske: Sunscreen is GST-exempt, along with such items as condoms, dams, lube, folate supplements, and nicotine replacement therapies.

  10. Jess B said

    Interesting tactic to target women… and it seems to have worked a treat based on the positive spin given to it in Clem’s article (Does it imply that’s it’s ok to be taxed to be a man?). So Coles has it’s usual collection of specials and this week (for only one week!) reduces the price on -some- sanitary items and proclaims it’s because they have women at heart. “Believe us oh gullible ones. Yes we believe what you believe – whatever that is. Feminism, sure whatever, count us in. Spend your money with us and tell your female friends via the web too!”

    I see Tim Tams are on special is that because they care about us choc biscuit lovers too? So kind.

    Sets an interesting if unfair precedent if the sentiment is to be believed eg.

    Why should people with (insert problem/attribute) have to pay GST on (insert corresponding product)? ie, incontinence pads, headache tablets, hair regrowth products, false teeth products, gluten allergies, etc May be we could skip paying tax on everything (we all need to eat and drink – that’s not a luxury!) and the fairies will pick up the tab…

    They could have just sold the relevant products at a cheaper regular price going forward without the righteous, biased marketing commentary… Folks, no need to suspend the critical analysis just when it happens to be in your favour – for one week!

  11. James said

    If I was Coles I’d just bump up my prices (feminine hygiene) then take the percent off. Many customers would be taken in by the marketing and wouldn’t check. Then I’d bump up the other womens targeted (makup, creams, etc) products to make more money. They are getting plenty of advertising via women with this campaign – Good marketing move. I think it’s reasonable to be suspicious/cynical about their motives. They are in the business to make money and emotional marketing works well with this target audience.

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