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The Government Changes Kicking In On January 1

A raft of new laws and major changes will kick in from January 1.

Here’s a crib sheet on what you can expect…

BACKPACKER TAX

Working holidaymakers will have to pay 15 per cent tax from the first dollar they earn and forgo 65 per cent of any superannuation earned when they leave the country. They can no longer claim any tax-free threshold.

PENSIONS

The amount of assets (excluding the family home) someone can have before pensions are hit is increasing but pensions will cut out more quickly for those with assets exceeding $375,000 for homeowner couples, $450,000 for single non-homeowners, and $575,000 for non-homeowner couples.

EDUCATION

- New VET student loan program begins, replacing the old VET FEE-HELP scheme. Students can get loans up to $5000, $10,000 or $15,000 depending on costs for a limited range of vocational courses.

- Industry Skills Fund, offering grants to help small businesses train staff, closes.

- The period students from regional and remote areas have to work to get the Youth Allowance is cut from 18 months to 14 months.

- Extra funding to schools for students with disabilities.

- Six research block grant schemes for universities is consolidated into two simpler programs.

AGRICULTURE

- Changes to the way levies for cattle, goat, lamb and sheep slaughters are split between R&D and marketing.

- New melon levy of $0.004 per kilo for R&D and Plant Health Australia membership

HEALTH

- Mepolizumab (trade name: Nucala) for the treatment of severe asthma listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

- Price cut for PBS prescriptions of Thiamine hydrochloride, used for treating vitamin B1 deficiency.

- Changes to Child Dental Benefits Schedule give children aged between two and 17 access to basic dental services, capped at $700 over two years.

- Increase to amount paid to pharmacists dispensing medicines to Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services.

CHILDCARE

- Trial program offering subsidies on nanny fees closes to new applications.

EMPLOYMENT

- New trial of a Launch into Work program offering training, work experience, and mentoring to prepare disadvantaged job seekers for employment.

ENVIRONMENT

- Green Army program ends, no new projects accepted.

- New grants available for councils, community and environmental groups to improve local parks.

AGED CARE

- Changes to aged-care provider funding, including increasing supplements for rural, remote and specialty services.

- Specialist dementia care units in 31 regions to be set up.

- Rental income from former family home of aged-care residents will be treated the same as pension income tests and the aged-care means test.

WELFARE

- Tougher compliance measures for people receiving welfare payments, including more data matching with tax office information about income.

- All newly arrived migrants have to wait two years before becoming eligible for a range of welfare payments, even if they are family of Australian citizens or permanent residents.

PASSPORTS

- $20 increase to adult passport fees and $10 for children and seniors.

- $54 increase for priority processing of passport applications.

STATE-BY-STATE CHANGES:

NSW

EDUCATION

- Community preschools which enrol four or five-year-old children for at least 600 hours a year will receive a funding boost. Average fees are expected to drop to $22 a day.

- Public schools teachers receive a 2.5 per cent pay rise under a three-year deal struck between their union and the Education Department.

TRANSPORT

- Fares on non-government operated ferry services, such as the Manly Fast Ferry, will rise in line with inflation.

- Toll charges on the Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, Hills M2 and Lane Cove Tunnel will increase slightly.

ENVIRONMENT

- "Feed-in tariffs" of 60 or 20 cents per kilowatt per paid to households for providing power generated by their solar panels into the electricity grid end as the state government's solar bonus wraps up.

PROPERTY

- The tax-free threshold for land tax payments rises from $482,000 to $549,000. The second bracket lifts from $2,947,000 to $3,357,000.

- An extra land tax surcharge of 0.75 per cent will come into effect for foreign residential real estate buyers.

VICTORIA

POLICE

- Police will now have the power to impound or crush a miniaturised motorbike, known as a monkey bike, if ridden on roads, footpaths or carparks. Offenders can be fined up to $3109.

- Increases to the maximum penalty for refusing a roadside drug test.

TRANSPORT

- Prices will jump for all public transport users while concession card holders will get a mere 90 cents wiped off their weekend tickets.

CHILD SAFETY

- All organisations working with children will need to meet new Child Safe Standards, with tougher screening for employees and stronger processes to help children at risk report suspected child abuse.

ELECTRICITY

- The state's five electricity distributers will lower tariffs by up to 3.31 per cent in some areas that could shave about $51 off an annual power bill. However some power companies will raise prices by up to 10 per cent.

PROPERTY

- People who do not live in the property they own will have their absentee land tax surcharges increased from 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

AGRICULTURE

- All sheep and goats born on or after January 1 will have to be tagged with the National Livestock Identification System to help trace diseases to their source and quickly contain outbreaks.

QUEENSLAND

SMOKE ALARMS

- All homes will be fitted with interconnected, photoelectric smoke alarms under a 10-year rollout of changes recommended by a coroner following a fatal house fire that claimed 11 lives at Slacks Creek, south of Brisbane, in August 2011.

TRANSPORT

- Fuel sellers will be required to meet targets for the sale of ethanol-blended petrol and bio-based diesel.

POWER

- Electricity rebates will help 157,000 extra families with a health care card save $330 a year.

EDUCATION

- Prep will become compulsory.

TASMANIA

FREIGHT

- Weekly international freight flight from Hobart to Ningbo (China) carrying milk, meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables.

PROPERTY

- Domestic structures like carports, decks and sheds will no longer require building or plumbing permits as long as the work is done by licensed tradespeople.

TRANSPORT

- Government-run Metro buses will introduce urban zone fares costing between $2.64 and $6.90 for an adult. Student concession bus fares rise 10 cents to $1.70.

EDUCATION

- New fees subsidy structure for TasTAFE students.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

457 VISAS

- Migrant families arriving in SA on 457 visas will have to pay a public education contribution fees of $5100 for each primary school-aged student and $6100 for high school pupils.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

FIRST HOME BUYERS

- Grants for new homes up to a value of $750,000 will be lifted from $10,000 to $15,000 for one year

WELFARE

- Metropolitan income limits for eligibility to the Keystart loan scheme increased by $20,000 - a couple who would previously only be eligible if their combined income was below $95,000 could now earn $115,000 and a single person, $90,000.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

- Aquatic biosecurity powers will be strengthened and Aboriginal marine rangers will be able to become fisheries inspectors under changes to the Fisheries Act.

AAP

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