It all started on Monday night, when a Q&A audience member asked Joe Hockey why the government was taxing her period. Tampons and pads attract GST, even though they are essential, rather than luxury, items.

A flustered Hockey agreed to ask the states to look into it — just please dear God don’t make him say tampon on television.

“My view is it does sound unfair that GST applies in that area but does not apply to condoms and a range of other, not dissimilar products,” the Treasurer ventured, before generously conceding: “Do I think sanitary products are essential? I think so. I think so.”

The PM weighed into the debate the next day, disagreeing with Hockey, and finding a whole new way to avoid saying the T word.

“I understand there’s long been a push to take the GST off goods, which are one way or another regarded as health products,” Abbott said, before marginalising 50% of voters with the quip: “Joe was asked a question on Q&A by some activists and he said that he had some sympathy with their position.”

What was Joe thinking?

Meanwhile over on Sky, Arthur Sinodinos was really keen to talk about tax reform, but less keen on talking about why we were talking about tax reform (although he did explain that Joe Hockey was just “trying to be obliging”).

“In that area”, “health products”, “not dissimilar products” — this is a debate that keeps on giving. Removing the tampon tax would only save women around $10 a year, but watching grown men squirm about periods is priceless.

Peter Fray

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