Although the beginning or end of a financial year is usually when many changes to Australia’s laws, regulations and policies take place, January 1 is another day that heralds change across Australia, and it pays to be across it.
From January 1, 2019, National Australia Bank will no longer be partnered with RediATMs across Australia, meaning that NAB customers will now have to pay to use these services. This means NAB customers will now have to pay $2 to use any one of the 3000 RediATMs across Australia that had previously been free since 2009.
The new Higher Educational Loan Program lifetime limit cap comes into effect from January 1, 2019, meaning that the government will only loan university students and Vocational and Educational Training (VET) students up to $104,440, and students studying medicine, dentistry or veterinary science $150,000. Prior to January 1, 2019, the government only capped postgraduate, full-fee and vocational loans.
From January 1, 2019 new laws aimed at reducing credit card debt will kick in across Australia. This means banks will have to assess three things before granting a customer access to a credit card: if the customer can afford to pay back the limit within three years; banks will have to stop applying interest retrospectively; banks will need to provide online options to cancel cards or reduce credit limits.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND PARKING CHANGES
Motorists in NSW will now be given a 10-minute ‘grace period’ for parking fines if they have already paid for at least one hour parking and have evidence of a ticket, from January 1, 2019.
Victorian train, tram and bus fares will be increased by 2.2 per cent from January 1, 2019, and Victorian students will no longer have to carry a Public Transport Victoria School Student ID. Rather, their standard approved school ID will give children access to concessional travel.
From January 7, 2019, people using the TransLink services in Brisbane will see their fares increase by 1.8 per cent for adult and concession fares.
From January 1, 2019, feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads will be exempt from the 10 per cent GST, thanks to the ‘tampon tax’ being abolished.
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PLASTIC BAG FINES INTRODUCED
Retailers in Western Australia face potential prosecution and fines of up to $5000 from January 1, 2019, if they supply lightweight plastic bags to customers. This includes small retail shops, takeaway food outlets and markets. The ban also applies to all bags with handles with a thickness of 35 microns or less, even if they’re biodegradable or compostable.
CHANGES FOR PARENTS AND KIDS
Western Australia has introduced a ‘No Jab No Play’ policy which means from January 1, 2019, childcare centres, kindergartens and schools will have to collect and report on the immunisation status of all students.
From January 1, 2019, new parents discharged from NSW hospitals carrying a little bundle of joy will receive a taxpayer-funded ‘baby bundle’ that includes baby products and information for new parents. The kit includes a sleeping bag, play and change mats, thermometers, a first aid kit, a muslin wrap, baby toothbrush, breast pads, board books, face cloth, baby wipes, hand sanitiser and barrier cream.
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