January 1, 2019 heralds changes you should know about

Say good bye to the Tampon Tax!

From January 1, the 10 per cent tax on tampons and pads will be no longer.

States and territories agreed last year to make sanitary products exempt from the GST after an 18-year campaign.

The items to be made exempt include:

  • Tampons
  • Pads
  • Menstrual cups
  • Maternity pads
  • Leak-proof underwear

Road Tolls on the AirportlinkM7 will rise.

There will be no change to five out of the six toll roads — the Gateway Motorway, Logan Motorway, Legacy Way, Go Between Bridge, Airportlink and Clem7 however car tolls on the AirportlinkM7 will increase by 10 cents from $5.46 to $5.56.

Commuters in  Queensland  will face higher transport costs.

From January 7, public transport fares for Brisbane and regional bus commuters will increase by 1.8 per cent, in line with the Consumer Price Index.

Head of TransLink Matthew Longland said it will mean an increase of between 6 and 11 cents per trip on the majority of journeys.

But in other zones it will increase by 10 cents, for example a 2 zone fare will increase to $2.90.

It might be a little harder to get a credit card

From January 1 credit providers must not provide a credit card with a credit limit that the consumer could not repay within three years under the Australian Securities & Investments Commission's (ASIC) voluntary measures.

The scheme is targeted at addressing Australia's debt problem and the mis-selling of credit cards, following the banking royal commission.

The changes mean new credit card applicants will need to prove they can pay:

Credit cart limit Monthly repayments required
$5,000 $178
$10,000 $357
$15,000 $535
$20,000 $713

Source: Rate City

Note: the above calculations are based on a person clearing the entire credit limit within three years, including interest charges at an average interest rate of 17.04 per cent.

Nine out of 10 lenders have already agreed to take "proactive steps" to help consumers who cannot pay off their credit cards, ASIC said in its latest report.

Some lenders will also allow interest-free periods on new purchases and restrict the amount consumers can exceed their credit limit to 10 per cent.

ASIC measures will also make it easier for consumers to cancel old credit cards.

It might be easier for borrowers with interest-only loans to refinance.

The financial regulator will lift restrictions on interest-only residential lending, which forced lenders to limit new interest-only lending to 30 per cent of home loans they issue.

It might make it "easier for people who are coming to the end of their interest-only mortgages — or are getting into financial hardship — to refinance with a normal lender".

JP Morgan's chief economist Sally Auld said it could also lead to a reduction in rates for interest-only loans, since they were repriced significantly higher in the wake of APRA's regulation.

NAB customers face a $2 withdrawal fee

NAB has announced that it will no longer be part of the rediATM network, which is operated by Cuscal, from January 1, 2019.

That means customers will face a $2 fee when using RediATMs across Australia.

NAB has instead advised its customers to continue withdrawing from fee-free ATMs, including NAB as well as those belonging to the other big four: Commonwealth, Westpac and ANZ.

Power price discounts are on the way

Concession card holders on default (standing offers) or non-discounted plans will get an automatic discount on electricity from January 1.

Origin Energy will provide concession card holders in these states on standing offers or non-discounted plans an automatic 10 per cent discount while EnergyAustralia will automatically apply 15 per cent discounts on electricity and gas usage for its eligible concession-card customers on default or "standing offer" tariffs.

EnergyAustralia will  cut prices for Queensland customers.

The Federal Family Court.

From January 1, the Australian Family Law system is changing.

The Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia will be amalgamated to form the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (‘FCFCA’).

All family law matters will be heard by the FCFCA which will operate through two divisions. Division 1 will comprise of all existing Family Court Judges and deal only with family law matters.

Division 2 will be made up of all existing judges of the Federal Circuit Court and hear family law and general federal law matters including fair work matters.

Current matters before the courts won’t be affected but it will affect future cases.

Federal Health Changes begin.

A pill to treat multiple sclerosis called Mavenclad that would have cost a patient $54,000 a year will be added to the PBS from January 1.

With the PBS listing, patients will pay just $40.30 a script or $6.50 if they are concessional patients.

The first medicine to effectively treat the life-threatening genetic condition known as Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) that affects around 10,000 Australians will be listed on the PBS from January 1, saving patients $23,000 a year.

The cost of a script will increase to $40.30 — up from $39.50 — with concession patients hit with a 10 cent rise per prescription.

All student income support recipients will be automatically issued with a Health Care Card to get cheaper medicines and some discounts.

All eligible Queenslanders will get access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme as it rolls out into Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

Australian Passports fee rise.

From January 1, 2019 the following applies:

A 10-year passport for persons aged 16 and over will be $293

A 5-year passport for children under 16 years and persons aged 75 and over will cost $148

An emergency passport overseas will cost $184

A replacement passport will add up to $184

A priority processing fee will be $215

An adult overseas surcharge will cost $132, and a child overseas surcharge will be $64

Building and construction changes.

From January 1, all electrical installation work in Queensland will now need to comply with new wiring rules — or fines could be issued.

Sustainable fishing in Queensland.

In Queensland net, line and crab fishing vessels need to have tracking units installed as part of a sustainable fisheries strategy plan from January 1.

Vessel tracking will be required on all commercial fishing boats by 2020, with the priority on net, line and crab commercial fishing boats.

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact tariff cuts.

Businesses and farmers are set to benefit from two tariff cuts within three days, under the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

The TPP-11 starts with a tariff cut on December 30 followed by a second on January 1.

Analysis of the trade agreement shows potential benefits of up to $15.6 billion to the national economy by 2030.

In October, Australia became the sixth country to legally ratify the agreement, joining Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore as part of the first group to ratify.

The agreement will provide new access to the Canadian market for Australian grains, sugar and beef exporters.

It will also open up the growing Mexican market for pork, wheat, sugar, barley and horticulture producers, and improves Australia’s market access into Japan for beef, wheat, barley and dairy exporters.

Education.

The FEE-HELP loan cap for students studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses will increase from an estimated $130,552 in 2019 to a new limit of $150,000, which is a fifteen per cent increase.

Students studying all other courses will have a loan limit of $104,440.

These amounts will still be indexed annually.

From January 1, the 25 per cent FEE-HELP loan fee will be abolished for domestic undergraduate students at Bond University and other ‘Table B Providers’ including Torrens University, Notre Dame University, and the University of Divinity.

Students who are in secondary school and study away from home may be entitled to an ABSTUDY Living Allowance payment increase.

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