New Year, New Laws: The January 1 Law Changes You Should Know About
If a whole new year, probably a new year's resolution and maybe even hangover weren't enough to deal with on January 1, there's also a bunch of new laws coming into effect.
To make all this change easier to digest, we have picked 10 of the biggest changes you should know about as your new year gets underway.
Tampon Tax Axed
The 10 percent GST on sanitary products, such as tampons and menstrual pads, will be axed on January 1. The removal of this tax was celebrated as a victory by women's rights groups who have campaigned against the "sexist" tax since it was introduced in 1999.
The tax on the products was long viewed as controversial as tampons and pads were taxed, while other products including incontinence pads, Viagra, sunscreen and condoms had exemptions.
Lifetime Cap On HELP university Debt
The government will introduce a new lifetime limit of the amount of money loaned to university and Vocational and Education Training (VET) students.
The lifetime Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) will be set at $104,440 for most students, while those studying more expensive courses like medicine and dentistry will have a $150,000 cap.
Credit Card Crackdown
Credit card providers will have to provide proof a card holder can afford to pay back their credit limit within three years under tough new years that aim to curb Australia's debt. Providers will also have to stop applying interest rates retrospectively and provide online avenues for credit card cancellation.
Collectively, Australian's owe a whopping $51.6 billion in credit card debt alone, making us one the of most highly indebted nations in the world.
Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Boost
Young adults in regional and rural Australia hoping to claim Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY will see a rise in the parental income limit from January 1. From the first day of 2019, the combined parental income limit will increase from $150,000 to $160,000 annually, with an additional $10,000 added for each additional child.
NAB Customers Cop ATM Fee
NAB customers will cop some bad news this New Year's Day, as they will now be charged $2 when they withdraw money from a Redi ATM. NAB has withdrawn the RediATM network and so their customers will now incur a charge when accessing cash.
This comes after the big four banks -- Commonwealth, NAB, ANZ and Westpac -- announced they would stop charging their customers for using competitor ATMs.
'No Jab, No Play' Anti-Vaxxer Policy
The 'No Jab, No Play' policy will be introduced to child care centres and schools in Western Australia in 2019. The policy says children need to be fully vaccinated -- unless they are medically unable -- to be enrolled for school or day care. Fees of $1000 apply for institutions who fail to follow the new regulations.
NSW and Victoria have already enforced the policy.
Plastic Bag Penalties
Western Australia's plastic bag ban will come into effect on January 1 with retailers facing fines of up to $5000 for not following them.
Plastic bag suppliers and manufactures who provide misleading information to retailers about the bags could also be fined and prosecuted.
Queensland and WA introduced plastic bag bans in July following South Australia, the ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Victoria's government has said it will ban plastic bags by the end of 2019 but it is unclear when NSW will also make the change.
READ MORE: Stop Bagging The Plastic Bag Ban
Public Transport Price Increases
In some parts of Australia commuters will be paying more to get from A to B.
In Victoria, tram, train and bus adult and concession fares are set to increase by 2.2 percent. For example, two hour, full-fare tickets will increase from $4.30 to $4.40 and all-day tickets will increase from $8.60 to $8.80.
Brisbane Translink customers will also be hit with a price hike. They will see a 1.8 percent increase in both adult and concession fares from January 7. An adult, single-zone ticket will increase from $4.70 to $4.80 for example.
Road tolls in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are also set to jump.
In Sydney, car tolls on the Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, the Lane Cove Tunnel and the Hills M2 Motorway will rise. In Melbourne, car tolls on CityLink will increase and the cost for a trip across the Bolte Bridge will change. In Brisbane, car tolls on the Airportlink M7 will increase.
Power Price Cuts
AGL customers in Victoria will see their power prices cut by 1.6 percent from January 1. The decrease is set to save households an average of $23 a year and $60 for small businesses.
The small relief follows power price cuts in NSW, Queensland and South Australia after a 20 percent rise in AGL prices in 2017.
$300 Baby Bundle For NSW Parents
New parents in NSW will receive a Baby Bundle worth $300 including essential product like a thermometer, first aid kit, barrier cream, baby toothbrush, muslin wrap, baby wipes, and breast pads. The taxpayer funded bundle aims to support new mothers and their babes.
New parents can request the package when they register their child through NSW Births.
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