New Year's Day laws target pensioners, solariums, immigrants and pokies

A raft of new legislation comes into force across the country on January 1, targeting pensioners, immigrants and solarium enthusiasts. (AAP)

A raft of new legislation comes into force across the country on January 1, targeting pensioners, immigrants and solarium enthusiasts.

A New Year means new laws, but not everybody will be pleased with the changes.

The income test for the valuable Commonwealth seniors health care card will become a lot stricter from New Year's Day onwards.

Account-based pensions and superannuation income streams won't be exempt from the income test to receive the card. 

Disability Support Pension applicants meanwhile must be assessed by a government-approved doctor instead of their own GP. If the government doctor finds they're not completely unable to work they could be put on the dole instead - which is about $160 a week less.

The government is also cracking down on the amount of time disabled pensioners can spend overseas before losing their payments. They can go overseas, without losing payments, for only four weeks a year.

Applicants for Newstart, sickness, widow or youth allowances, or parenting payments will have to wait a week before receiving payments.

And if Newstart recipients miss an appointment with a service provider without good reason they'll have their payments suspended until they reschedule the appointment. The government says more than a third of job seeker appointments were missed in the past year.

In New South Wales it's natural or nothing, with solariums banned. From Thursday it will be illegal to offer UV tanning services for a fee, with fines of up to $44,000 for anyone caught offering them.

At least 10 people die every year from melanoma caused by tanning beds in NSW.

Some tough new environmental rules will also take effect from January 1.

The maximum penalty for a corporation that doesn't comply with the environmental authority regarding a contamination order will rise from $137,500 to $1 million.

In NSW's 860 national parks, smoking will be banned from Thursday. The state government says the move is aimed at lessening the risk of bush fires and reducing litter. Picnic areas, campgrounds, beaches, lookouts, walking tracks and national park roads will all be included in the ban.

In Western Australia people who bite or spit at police officers will undergo a mandatory blood test from Thursday onwards.

Officers previously had to wait up to six months for their own test results if they were suspected of having contracted an infectious disease in the line of duty.

People accused of having transferred bodily fluids including semen, blood and saliva, to an officer will now have to have their blood tested. Those failing to comply will face a $12,000 fine and 12 months' jail.

In the Northern Territory clubs and pubs will have a very Happy New Year, will the government allowing an increase in pokie machines.

From July 1, the territory will scrap the current cap of 1190 machines. Pubs will be able to boost their number of machines from 10 to 20 and clubs from 45 to 55.

Up until now new venues had been prevented from offering electronic gaming machines, but the government says it's restoring an even playing field.

But the new year doesn't bring all gloom and taxes.

The commonwealth is giving states an extra $406 million to continue universal access to preschool for another year.

It's starting a new program to give free flu vaccinations to indigenous children aged under five, at a cost of almost $4 million, and offering bursaries to young carers so they can concentrate on study instead of having to find part-time work.

One of the big-ticket industry items announced in the May budget also starts up on January 1: a $476 million skills fund.

Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to get money from the fund to provide training or mentoring support to their staff.

The government is planning to spend an extra $8 million on anti-people smuggling ads - including in Australia.

On the sporting fields, January 1 brings changes to the ASADA act in accordance with the new World Anti-Doping Code, which has stronger penalties for drug users but also offers them a chance to plea bargain.

Australian sportspeople will be unable to associate with anyone in a professional capacity who has been banned, convicted or disciplined by any doping body.

Hits to the hip pocket:

  • Untaxed superannuation included in assessment of income for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
  • DSP applicants must be assessed by government-approved doctor.
  • Reduced amount of time DSP recipients can go overseas without losing payments, to four weeks in a year.
  • Limited reasons why students on welfare can travel overseas without losing payments.
  • No more relocation scholarships to students who move between major cities for university.
  • Applicants for Newstart, sickness, widow or youth allowances, or parenting payments have to wait a week before receiving payments.
  • Suspended payments to Newstart recipients who miss appointment with employment service provider without a good reason until they attend rescheduled appointment. 
  • Fee for Partner Visas in permanent family migration scheme jumps 50 per cent, meaning fees could be as much as $6865.
  • Means-testing applied to schoolkids bonus - only families on $100,000 or less will get the $422 payment for primary or $842 for secondary students.

New government payments and schemes:

  • $406 million to states to extend the universal access to preschool for an extra year.
  • Free flu vaccinations for indigenous kids aged between six months and five years.
  • 150 bursaries for young carers to help them continue studies by relieving pressure to take up part-time work - worth up to $10,000 each.
  • Funding for an extra 300 GP training places each year.
  • $476 million industry skills fund to support training needs of small- and medium-sized businesses.
  • New industry counselor in New Delhi, India, to promote strategic co-operation, trade and investment.

Other changes:

  • Revised World Anti-Doping Code takes effect.
  • Lease of ACV Triton (which patrols for asylum seeker boats) extended to end of June.
  • $8.1 million for more anti-people smuggling ads.
  • Changes to rules on how migrants must show English proficiency.
  • Royal commission into trade unions starts extra 12 months.
  • Quarantine laws updates.
  • New rules protecting Asian Cup mascot Nutmeg the Wombat and restrict use of words related to the soccer competition.
  • New safety standard for installing curtains with cords in caravans, motor homes and boats.

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