Flat White

The ‘tampon tax’ is not sexist. Removing it is

3 October 2018

12:21 PM

3 October 2018

12:21 PM

The price of a name-brand pack of ladies’ sanitary pads with wings is around $5.00. A packet of name-brand extra-absorbent tampons is about the same.  Generic supermarket brands are considerably cheaper.

In a typical month one, maybe two of each will be required, a maximum outlay of about $20.

That’s a maximum GST of $2 a month, give or take a few cents.  $24 a year.

How do I know? It’s because, like many men, I’m the one who mostly buys the ladies’ sanitary products in our household.  When the need suddenly arises it doesn’t matter who pays, as long as someone gets to the supermarket before it closes.

Yet after years of agitating from Labor, the Greens and feminist and Left-leaning opinionistas, who collectively claim the GST on sanitary products is sexist by compelling women to pay it because that’s the way God made them, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his state counterparts are bowing to the agitation.  The supposedly-crippling GST burden on Australian women soon will be no more, at a cost to the federal budget of $30 million a year – you weren’t expecting those profligate states to reduce their spending, were you?

This is gesture politics at its most pointless.  It saves virtually nothing, it won’t gain the federal Coalition a single vote, and it simply adds yet another costly-to-administer exemption to an already sieve-like GST revenue pool.  Frydenberg is trying too hard to ingratiate himself and the government with a vocal and fashionable constituency – the feminist lobby – which will never vote Coalition in a pink fit.

But above all, Frydenberg is not removing a sexist anomaly in the tax system: he’s creating one.

In making this concession to gesture politics, the Morrison government accepts the Left’s assertion that one half of taxpayers, women, is more special than the other half, men.  Can the Prime Minister and Treasurer honestly say that women’s progress in the workforce and politics has been held back by up to a whopping $24 a year?  Have women been bankrupted by this odious impost?  Have marriages collapsed and children made homeless?

Of course not.

The truth is that the sexism is in removing GST from sanitary products, not in retaining it.  It creates an un-level playing field based on gender: isn’t that what sexism does by definition?

Meanwhile men, many of whom – like me – actually pay for the sanitary products the women in our lives use – somehow are supposed to have reinforced our sinister ascendancy over women by the application of this wicked tampon tax.  But are the likes of Tanya Plibersek going to stand up for we blokes who, due to our own chromosomal handicap, are condemned to daily scraping our faces with quickly-blunting razors, and are compelled to fork out to buy these GST-carrying necessities?

Not bloody likely.

Frydenberg would have done better to have held the rational line against this overhyped and partisan identity politics, not surrender to it.  With his banker’s training, he understands better than most that consumption taxes work best and are fairer the broader-based they are.  That’s the principle he and the government should be upholding, not cherry-picking exemptions to mollify noisy special interests.

And this is no vote-changer.  If any Liberal thinks a typical saving of $24 a year will benefit the Morrison government at the ballot box next year, they’re dreaming.

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