From work bonus increases to superannuation reforms, these are some of the policy and law changes that will be implemented beginning July 1, 2019.
1. A ban on e-waste disposal in landfills
In an effort to protect the environment from likely hazardous materials, the Victorian Government will be banning electronic waste (e-waste) from being disposed in bins, which eventually end up in landfills. E-waste includes mobile phones, TVs, radios, batteries, and fluorescent lights.
Victorian residents will need to take their e-waste in e-waste drop-off points within their communities. After disposal, e-waste will be recycled safely.
For more information, get in touch with your local council and/or visit Sustainability Victoria.
2. Repayment changes for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
Changes to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) will take effect this July 1. These come after both houses of Parliament passed the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (Student Loan Sustainability) Act 2018 (the Act) August of last year.
The changes include a new minimum repayment threshold of $45,881, with a 1% repayment rate and, an adjustment of repayment requirements in line with the current cost of living rather than simply on Average Weekly Earnings (AWE).
For more information, visit the Department of Education.
3. Superannuation reforms to protect retirement savings
Among the changes Australian workers need to be aware of are cancellation of insurance policies for accounts that have been inactive for 16 months; the closing of inactive super accounts with low balances; a cap of 3% per annum if your account has a balance of $6,000 or less; and a ban on exit fees.
For more information, visit the The Treasury.
4. Work bonus increases
An initiative that gives older Australians the benefits of working while still receiving a pension, the Work Bonus will increase to $300 per fortnight. Because of this change, participants will be able to earn more before their pensions are reduced.
For more information, visit Centrelink.
5. Pension Loans Scheme (PLS) changes affect both new and existing recipients
You are eligible for the Pension Loans Scheme (PLS) if you or your partner are of Age Pension age; you own real estate property in the country that can serve as security for your loan; you or your partner gets no rate of payment or less than the maximum rate payment because of either income or assets; or you meet Age Pension residence rules.
The change to PLS will entail an increase of 100% to 150% of the maximum fortnightly pension rate.
For more information, visit the Department of Human Services.
6. Penalty rates and allowances to change for workers in the Fast Food, Hospitality, Pharmacy and Retail industries
Changes to penalty rates and allowances will occur beginning July 1. Those affected by the changes include permanent and casual employees working on Sundays, public holidays, evenings or after midnight in the Restaurant, Hospitality, Pharmacy, Fast Food and Retail industries.
For more information, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman.
7. Energy companies will be required to make a Default Market Offer (DMO)
It will be mandatory for energy providers to make a Default Market Offer (DMO) available to small businesses and home customers in South Australia, New South Wales and southeast Queensland beginning July 1.
The DMO is the reference price or the annual maximum total bill amount for energy. This will put a cap on the amount energy companies charge their customers.
Energy retailers are still able to freely set charges on usage as long as the total bill is equal to or less than the DMO.
For more information, visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
8. Opal weekly fares decrease
While fares will increase to 1.9% in New South Wales, regular commuters will see a decrease in weekly Opal fares.
Adult fares will be capped at $50 a week, while the concession cap will decrease from $31.60 to $25 a week.
For more information, visit the NSW Government - Transport.