Home Roland Rocchiccioli There are those days when you shake your head incredulously, wondering if...

There are those days when you shake your head incredulously, wondering if what you are hearing or reading is a joke it is so ludicrous!

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How anyone could suggest that women’s hygiene products tampons and pads – are luxury items, is beyond intelligent understanding. You wonder in which parallel universe these decision-making, dinosauric men are living. Curiously, working in the theatre, you are more exposed to the trials and tribulations of the menstrual cycle. When the ‘curse’ (which is what most actresses called it when I was working full-time as a stage director) comes around every month, you have to help deal with their problem, and try and get them through the performance. I always kept a supply of tampons on-hand, and thank God I did. It saved many an awkward situation.

Unlike many women in the workforce, actresses cannot allow it to interfere with their performance. They have to get-on and do the job – as all women do at that time of the month. For actresses it is more problematic. They cannot always make a quick dash for the loo. If they are performing in a strenuous role – lots of running and jumping, and being witty and amusing, it takes its toll. I have seen actresses, doubled-over in pain in the wings, waiting for their cue, and then, when their moment arrived, straightenup, take a deep breath, mutter a couple of expletives – ‘you wouldn’t be a f****** woman for quids’ was a common growl, then make an entrance onto the stage as if they were on top of the world, and having the most wonderful time; as opposed to men with a slight sniffle who were a bloody nuisance, and carried-on a treat!

In 2009 the debate as to whether sanitary products should be GST-exempt was reignited when Coles announced that they were cutting the price of sanitary products by 10% to offset the GST.

Despite the fact that the Labor government opposed the tax on sanitary items back in 2000, the current Labor government has done nothing to rectify the anomaly. It is worth mentioning that according to some reports, the Government makes approximately $25 million per year from the GST on female hygiene products. Is that the only reason the GST stays in place? It seems rather punitive. A punishment for having their period, and not being available to men.

Former Prime Minster, John Howard, together with his Health Minister, and one-time, Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, decided these items were a luxury! A luxury!! By whose standards, one has to ask? I cannot imagine two men, less eligible, to make such a decision. Just stop and think about that for a moment.

It is outrageous that condoms and lubricant are exempt of GST – wouldn’t you know? They are used by men, and whatever you want to believe, we live in a patriarchal society. In making the decision to impose GST on these essential women’s products, it would be hard to imagine two men, less appropriate for the task. Whether it be real, or perceived, Tony Abbott is seen to have problems in his professional association with women. Mr. Howard is from the generation when ‘periods’ were never mentioned. It was secret women’s business and men did not need to know – and they did not want to know. Certainly, they were never openly discussed. One cannot help but wonder whether the decision stems from the male, deep-seated reticence to talk, in detail and without embarrassment, about the intimate female anatomy. When a colleague was appearing in the stage play ‘Vagina Monologues’, one of Melbourne’s most popular radio presenters declined an offer to interview her – even though she had been a regular on his programme: ‘I can’t say ‘vagina’ on the radio.’ He was serious. We hear the words penis and testicles on radio, but rarely, if ever, do we hear the word clitoris. There is no justification for tampons and pads – women’s hygiene products to be subjected to GST. Only a man would make that decision – and a man who does not understand. Women should not be taxed for their biology. If men had periods it would be a totally different story. They would probably demand, and be granted, five-days paid leave each month. That condoms are exempt – they claim for health reasons – could only lead you to draw one inference.

The claim that condoms and lubricant, as opposed to tampons and pads, are exempt for health reasons is a spurious argument. What should women use? Old newspaper or strips of sheeting? That would be a health hazard. Have you ever lived with a woman suffering from a vaginal infection? It makes you grateful you are a man. My mother, Beria, grew-up in a Salvation Army Girls’ Home. When they started their periods they were given half-a-dozen strips of sheeting which they had to use and wash each month. That is highly unsanitary! Are the men making these decisions suggesting women should return to that practice?

Perhaps the women of Australia should do what the women of Lesbos did to their men when they would not stop warring with neighbouring nations. The ultimatum was simple: ‘Until you stop fighting there will be no more sex.’

Guess what? It was miraculous. It worked a treat! Are you surprised?

Someone should bang-together the heads of decisionmaking men and tell them we are living in 2017 – not the bloody Dark Ages!

Roland can be heard each MONDAY morning on 3BA at 10.30.Contact: rolandroc@bigpond.com