Michael Bailey Deputy editor

Michael has been a business journalist for 12 years. He has extensive experience editing magazines covering funds management, commercial property and the travel industry. In 2011 he won a Citi Excellence in Financial Journalism award for a BRW cover story on economic indicators.

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New call to end ‘sexist’ GST on tampons

Published 14 February 2013 11:12, Updated 15 February 2013 08:28

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New call to end ‘sexist’ GST on tampons

Campaigner Sophie Liley says senior members of the federal government have in the past spoken out against the GST being levied on tampon purchases. Photo: Lee Besford

A university student has launched a campaign for the goods and services tax (GST) to be removed from tampons, calling it a “bloody disgrace” that the female necessity attracts the impost when items such as condoms, lubricant, incontinence pads and sunscreen do not.

Sophie Liley, women’s officer at the University of Western Australia, says it is “fundamentally sexist” that tampons are labelled “luxury items”, making them liable for GST.

“Tampons aren’t a luxury – they’re a necessity,” she says.

“Half the population of Australia – approximately 10 million women – will pay tax on these products for the greater part of their lifetime, costing us about $1000 for buying an essential health product.”

Liley is attempting to build momentum behind her campaign by starting a petition through change.org for the “tampon tax” to be abolished. That site gained notoriety last September in the wake of broadcaster Alan Jones’s remarks about Julia Gillard’s father, when a petition calling for advertisers to boycott Jones’s radio program garnered more than 100,000 signatories.

However Liley’s campaign will run into long-running resistance from both sides of politics to making any changes to the GST, although Coalition leader Tony Abbott has not ruled out acceding to West Australian demands for GST revenue to be divided between the states on a per capita basis.

However Liley says she may resort to naming and pressuring those who previously argued against levying GST on tampons.

“Senior members of the Labor Government are on record as being against the tampon tax – they publicly fought it being included in the GST back in 2000,” she says.

“With enough public pressure, I know we can get them speaking up again to help us end the tampon tax.”