Words || Angela Heathcote
In early September members of the Macquarie University Women’s Collective were made aware of the pricing of a 12 pack of Libra ultra thins. At the inflated price of $9.95, the Macshop – run by Campus Life – makes it increasingly difficult for women to access necessary sanitary products.
Bec Lumbroso, the Collective member responsible for starting the conversation, was caught by surprise at the price of a 12 pack of pads.
‘I don’t understand how such a necessity in life can be viewed as such a luxury good. A student can decide whether or not they choose to buy some ridiculously over priced packet of chips from the Macshop. It’s different when that student has no real choice as to whether or not they can afford a pack of pads. It’s outrageous that they have the audacity to put women in a position where they are charged incessantly for goods that they cannot live without in that given moment.’
The debate around the tampon tax on university campuses has been mounting since 2015 when the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney began an online petition calling for women’s sanitary products to be exempt from the goods and services tax. The issue was subsequently brought up on an episode of Q&A, forcing former treasurer Joe Hockey to confront the issue, after which he agreed to lobby States to ditch the tax.
“Whether or not the tampon tax is removed, the overall price of pads and tampons is entirely up to the discretion of the merchant.”
Regardless of the widespread pressure to dump the tax, change is yet to materialise with even Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten confirming, a month prior to the federal election, that he would not remove the GST.
Whether or not the tampon tax is removed, the overall price of pads and tampons is entirely up to the discretion of the merchant. Back in 2007, Coles announced they would be cutting the price of pads and tampons by 10 per cent to alleviate the effect of the GST. This has led to both Coles and Woolworths consistently cutting the price of female sanitary products, not only to compete with one another, but also to gain loyal customers by focusing on the products that they buy the most. The latest round of cuts occurred in early May this year.
The Daily Mail confirmed that, ‘a 16-pack of Libra Slimpons have been cut from $5.60 to $4; Libra Liners Purse Pack 28-packs have gone from $3.90 to $3; and Libra Pads Ultra-Thin & Extra Pads 10 to 14-pack have dropped from $5.90 to $4.80. Coles’ price cuts will also see a 20-pack of Tena Pads Ultra-Thin Mini drop from $6.60 to $5.40, while a Tena Pads Normal 12 pack has fallen from $6.20 to $5.40’. Spokespeople from both supermarkets expressed a commitment to making female sanitary products more affordable.
When Grapeshot approached Macshop for comment they had this to say: ‘Whilst we offer students the convenience of being able to purchase a wide range of products on campus, unfortunately we find it difficult to compete with the big supermarkets on pricing as their buying power gives them the ability to bring their selling prices down to below what we can purchase those same products for, however given the feedback we will look to see if we can bring the pricing for feminine hygiene products closer to the costs of the big supermarkets.’
Students are to be advised that sanitary products are freely available in the Women’s Room located at Level 3, C10A down the hallway.