The New Year is upon us.
Like its July cousin, the primary day of the calendar yr brings with it various changes together with new legal guidelines and laws, charges and fees, taxes and advantages.
Here’s what you have to know for January 1, 2019.
TRAIN FARES UP
Train, tram and bus fares throughout Victoria will improve by 2.2 per cent from January 1 according to the buyer worth index, in what the state authorities says is the bottom fare rise since 2014.
A two-hour, full-fare ticket will improve from $four.30 to $four.40, whereas an all-day ticket will improve from $eight.60 to $eight.80. Concession charges will improve from $2.15 to $2.20 and $four.30 to $four.40 respectively.
A seven-day, full-fare Myki cross will improve from $43 to $44, whereas the concession cross will improve from $21.50 to $22. An annual full-fare Myki move will improve from $1683.50 to $1,722.50, whereas the concession cross will improve from $841.75 to $861.25.
For regional Victorians, the price of getting round city will stay unchanged, with journeys inside the similar zone capped at $2.40 for the fourth consecutive yr.
Meanwhile, college students will not need to pay for and carry the Public Transport Victoria School Student ID and can as an alternative have the ability to use an accepted faculty scholar ID to entry concession journey.
Brisbane commuters will see their prices improve the next week on January 7, with TransLink saying a 1.eight per cent rise in grownup and concession fares.
An grownup, single-zone ticket will improve from $four.70 to $four.80 however the concession price stays unchanged at $2.40. The fee for an eight-zone ticket will improve from $28.40 to $28.90 for adults and from $14.20 to $14.50 for concession.
Users of the cheaper TransLink Go card, which provides additional reductions for off-peak journey, will see a single-zone grownup fare improve from $2.60-$three.25 to $2.65-$three.31, whereas concession fares will improve from $1.30-$1.63 to $1.32-$1.66.
The most eight-zone fare will improve from $15.69-$19.61 to $15.97-$19.96 for adults and $7.84-$9.81 to $7.98-$9.98 for concession.
NSW launched its annual fare changes in July, growing Opal fares by 2.2 per cent, including about 39 cents every week to the typical commuter’s invoice.
‘TAMPON TAX’ AXED
Feminine hygiene merchandise will develop into cheaper from January 1 after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg secured settlement from state and territory treasurers in October to axe the so-called “tampon tax”.
Sanitary gadgets like tampons and pads will lastly be exempted from the 10 per cent GST — becoming a member of different well being merchandise together with nicotine patches, sunscreen and even Viagra — in a transfer that may value $30 million in misplaced income a yr.
“We think this is an unfair tax. We think it should be scrapped,” Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer informed Channel 7 on the time. “Millions of Australian women will benefit.”
Greens Senator Janet Rice stated it was a “huge win for all Australians who menstruate and shows the power of grassroots movements when we work together”.
“I’m so pleased that finally, both major parties have listened to the huge groundswell of Australians who knew from the start how sexist and unfair this tax was,” she stated.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly, whereas supporting the change, warned that the GST was initially designed to use throughout the board and the tampon tax would “push the line further still”.
“When you carve exemptions out, there will always be a grey area about where it should be,” he informed Sky News. “The barbecue chicken versus the uncooked chicken. The sandwich versus the bread — the sandwich has the tax on it, the loaf of bread doesn’t.”
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm welcomed the choice however referred to as for a complete overhaul of the tax system to deal with the “arbitrary nature of the application of the GST”.
“Unlike New Zealand’s comprehensive GST, Australia’s GST is highly discriminatory,” he stated. “If we must have a GST, then have it applied to all consumer goods and lift the income tax free threshold to $40,000 and cut personal and company tax rates to a flat 20 per cent to compensate.”
POWER PRICE CUTS
AGL clients in Victoria will see their electrical energy costs come down by 1.6 per cent from January 1 for a mean saving per family of $23 a yr and $60 for small companies.
Gas costs will come down by zero.9 per cent for residential clients and 1.2 per cent for small companies, leading to a mean saving of $11 and $56 respectively.
The modest aid comes on the heels of worth cuts in NSW, Queensland and South Australia in July, following AGL’s eye-watering hikes of up to 20 per cent in 2017.
Origin Energy will maintain all costs flat in Victoria and can proceed to supply a 26 per cent low cost for concession card clients and 17 per cent low cost for different residential Victorian standing and non-discounted clients.
In NSW, ACT, Queensland and South Australia, an estimated 230,000 concession card holders on standing provides or non-discounted plans will get an automated 10 per cent low cost on electrical energy from January 1, for a mean saving of $169.
EnergyAustralia may also maintain electrical energy costs flat in Victoria from January 1, having already introduced earlier this yr no change to costs in NSW, South Australia and ACT and worth reductions in Queensland within the new yr.
The firm stated it was absorbing greater than $15 million in further prices in Victoria that may have labored out to a 1.9 per cent improve per family, including $39 to the typical annual invoice.
Gas costs will improve by four.2 per cent, or about $69 a yr per family, however EnergyAustralia stated clients might keep away from the rise by switching to the Secure Saver plan, locking in 2018 charges for 2 years.
CREDIT CARD CRACKDOWN
The nation’s 10 largest bank card issuers, American Express, ANZ, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Citi, CommBank, HSBC, Latitude, Macquarie, NAB and Westpac have agreed to wash up the best way they cope with debt-laden clients.
The trial is in response to an ASIC report earlier this yr that discovered multiple in six shoppers, almost two million individuals, have been battling bank card debt — Reserve Bank figures present the nation owes nearly $52 billion.
In response, quite a lot of suppliers at the moment are trialling proactive measures similar to tailor-made communications or structured cost preparations to assist shoppers with probably problematic debt or who’re failing to repay stability transfers.
Other measures embrace proscribing the quantity by which shoppers can exceed their credit score restrict to 10 per cent, taking a fairer strategy to stability transfers comparable to permitting interest-free durations on new purchases, and enhancing disclosure about cancelling previous bank cards.
Each supplier is at totally different levels in implementing the voluntary changes.
A variety of obligatory regulation reforms additionally come into impact from January 1, together with a three-year accountable lending evaluation. That means banks should not present a bank card with a restrict that the buyer can’t repay inside three years.
They may even be banned from offering unsolicited credit score restrict improve presents, backdating curiosity costs on stability transfers, and should supply the power to request a credit score restrict discount or card cancellation on-line.
“We will be monitoring lenders over the next two years to make sure they have taken action to address our concerns, and to ensure that consumer outcomes are improving in the credit card market,” ASIC commissioner Sean Hughes stated.
BAG BAN PENALTIES
Penalties for Western Australia’s plastic bag ban come into impact on January 1 with retailers dealing with potential prosecution and fines of as much as $5000.
Plastic bag suppliers and producers who present deceptive info to retailers additionally danger being prosecuted and fined. The ban applies to all retailers, not simply supermarkets, and all luggage with handles with a thickness of 35 microns or much less, even when they’re biodegradable or compostable.
Queensland and Western Australia launched plastic bag bans on July 1, bringing them into line with South Australia, the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania, however retailers in Western Australia got six months to part out their present stocks.
Victoria’s authorities has stated it’s going to ban plastic luggage by the top of 2019, however NSW refuses to comply with go well with. Most main retailers together with Coles and Woolworths instituted nationwide bans on July 1.
“Western Australia’s plastic bag ban has been well supported by the community and I commend those who have backed the government’s initiative and got on board — using alternatives to plastic bags,” WA surroundings minister Stephen Dawson stated in a press release.
“From January 1, 2019 it will be an offence for retailers to supply lightweight plastic bags — this includes small retail shops, takeaway food outlets and markets. Consumers can help by remembering to take their own reusable bags when they go shopping. Taking lightweight plastic bags out of the litter stream is a significant step towards protecting our environment.”
‘NO JAB NO PLAY’
Meanwhile in Western Australia, the state authorities is ramping up its vaccination crackdown with the introduction of a “No Jab No Play” coverage.
From January 1, childcare centres, kindergartens and faculties will probably be required to gather and report on the immunisation standing of all college students and could also be shut down by the state’s chief well being officer within the occasion of an outbreak of vaccine-preventable contagious illness.
The well being division will use the info to chase up households for vaccination and if mandatory exclude the youngsters within the occasion of a illness outbreak, with potential fines of $1000 for the individual in cost if they allow a banned baby to attend the power.
Under the second part of the plan, the state authorities will introduce a invoice in search of to ban under-vaccinated youngsters from enrolling in childcare from 2019, and kindergarten from 2020.
NSW, Victoria and Queensland have already launched comparable legal guidelines, and South Australia is planning to proceed within the close to future. The federal authorities already withholds household funds for folks of unvaccinated youngsters beneath the “No Jab No Pay” coverage.
Western Australia’s immunisation price is decrease than the nationwide common, with two-year-olds within the state recording the nation’s lowest immunisation protection of 89.1 per cent.
To obtain herd immunity, 95 per cent of youngsters have to be absolutely immunised to successfully forestall outbreaks of extremely infectious illnesses akin to measles.
“In Australia, we are lucky to have an immunisation program which protects children from 16 vaccine preventable diseases, yet we are still seeing children who are not fully immunised, putting other children and the broader community at risk,” Western Australia well being minister Roger Cook stated in a press release.
TAXPAYER BABY BUNDLE
In NSW, new mother and father discharged from hospital from January 1 will obtain a taxpayer-funded $300 “Baby Bundle” crammed with child merchandise and knowledge to assist mother and father “welcome their newborn into the world”.
The non-means-tested “bundle of joy”, which features a sleeping bag, play and alter mats, thermometers and a primary help package, is a part of the federal government’s $157 million mother and father package deal introduced within the state finances.
Described as “a major win for families in NSW”, it additionally features a muslin wrap, child toothbrush, breast pads, board books, face material, child wipes, hand sanitiser and barrier cream.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian stated the Baby Bundle would offer mother and father and caregivers with merchandise and knowledge to help the well being, improvement and wellbeing of their infants.
“We know there are lots of expenses associated with having a child, so this bundle will help alleviate some of those cost pressures,” she stated in a press release.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard added, “A new baby coming home is a great time but it also can be challenging and this bundle aims to help parents enjoy the moment rather than stressing out.”
If your child is born at house, you’ll be able to request a Baby Bundle whenever you register your child by way of NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages. If your child is born interstate or abroad, and you’ve got a present NSW house handle, you possibly can request a Baby Bundle by way of e-mail.
It shall be delivered to your nominated NSW handle freed from cost.
Just beneath 96,000 infants have been born in NSW final yr. The NSW authorities anticipates that round 50,000 Baby Bundles will probably be given out within the first six months of the yr by 87 private and non-private maternity hospitals throughout NSW.
QANTAS GOES HUNGRY
Qantas Frequent Flyer members will not have the ability to earn factors by reserving meals from January 1 with the airline shutting down its Qantas Restaurants scheme launched in 2014.
The partnership with TripAdvisor-owned platform Dimmi.com.au allowed members to earn factors by reserving at greater than 4000 eating places, incomes 100 Qantas Points for every member of the group.
“Due to changes in the program, from January 1, 2019 you will no longer be able to book a table or earn points via Qantas Restaurants,” a quick discover on the web site stated. “You can book a table up until December 31, 2018 and dine until January 31, 2019.”
It’s understood Qantas and Dimmi got here to a mutual choice to finish the partnership and that the airline was in discussions about new methods for members to earn factors for eating out.
Qantas Frequent Flyer members can nonetheless earn factors at Rockpool Dining Group’s 60-plus eating places at a price of two factors per $1 at ‘premium’ and ‘casual’ places like Rockpool Bar & Grill, Spice Temple and Fratelli Fresh, and one level per $1 at ‘fast casual’ places like Burger Project, Fratelli Famous and Sake Jr.
“Members can nonetheless earn Qantas Points once they dine out by paying for his or her meal with a
Qantas Points-earning card at any cafe or restaurant,” a spokeswoman stated. “They can also earn points and use them to pay their bill at Rockpool Dining Group venues across the country.”
NAB’S ATM ‘GRINCH’
Starting on January 1, National Australia Bank clients might be pressured to pay $2 to take cash out from greater than 3000 ATMs they beforehand used free of charge since 2009.
The transfer comes because of the financial institution parting methods with the RediATM community, that are owned and operated by payments provider Cuscal.
CommBank, NAB, ANZ and Westpac all introduced final yr they have been ditching the hated ATM withdrawal charges charged to clients of different banks that value shoppers an estimated $500 million a yr.
RediATMs — sometimes situated in locations like comfort shops and pubs — have been ignored of the payment waiver announcement, as was CommBank’s community of Bankwest ATMs principally situated in 7-Eleven shops.
Now even NAB clients should return to paying to make use of them. “Just when you thought the days of ATM fees were over, NAB customers will soon have to pay to access the 3000 or so Redi ATMs,” Mozo spokesman Tom Godfrey told the Herald Sun.
“With ING, Macquarie and ME Bank happily refunding customers who use private ATMs, if you’re sick and tired of these fees it’s time to move your money.”
A NAB spokeswoman defended the transfer in a press release to the paper, saying clients might nonetheless withdraw money free-of-charge from greater than 7000 ATMs nationally.
“For this reason NAB has decided to no longer be part of the RediATM network from January 1, 2019,” she stated. “The way Australians are using cash is changing fast with ATM use declining by 20 per cent over the past five years.”
DISABILITY SUPPORT PRISON
Thousands of incapacity help pension recipients who wind up behind bars will have the ability to proceed receiving the cost after they’re launched.
While prisoners can’t get the DSP whereas they’re locked up, they’re able to “suspend” the cost for as much as two years. The federal authorities had deliberate to scale back the utmost suspension interval to 13 weeks from January 1, bringing it consistent with different welfare funds together with Newstart.
The change was introduced within the 2018 federal price range and was anticipated to save lots of the federal government $5.2 million over 5 years. An estimated 2200 individuals would have been affected, together with those that had pleaded not responsible and are nonetheless awaiting trial.
They would have been pressured to reapply for the DSP underneath new, harder necessities, which authorized rights teams stated would result in many being pushed onto the decrease Newstart cost, growing their danger of returning to jail.
Following a sustained lobbying marketing campaign by Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, the federal government quietly backflipped on the change in December’s mid-year finances replace.
“The result of the pressure we managed to bring has resulted in the government retaining the existing arrangements with a suspension period of two years,” AFDO CEO Ross Joyce stated in a press release.
“This would have had a significant detrimental effect on the lives of any person with disability on the DSP who it would apply to, and the original change just made no sense and was bad policy.”