As the world leaves 2020 behind, new schemes and laws will come into effect on 1 January.
The changes will see Aussies on JobSeeker cop another cut to inncome support; greater control over superannuation; new bankruptcy laws; and, for some families, free pre-school or kindergarten for the entire year.
Here’s a cheat sheet of what will be new for Aussie hip pockets from 1 January 2021:
If you’re on JobSeeker…
You’ll cop a $100 cut to the JobSeeker boost, which is currently $250. This rate had already been lowered from the original $550.
The new Coronavirus Supplement will be $150 a fortnight, and will last until 31 March. This brings the total fortnightly payments to $715.70, meaning those on JobSeeker will have to live on roughly $51 a day.
If you’re on JobKeeper…
You’ll get a pay cut of $200 or $100 depending on which tier you fall into.
Under JobKeeper extension 2, which runs from 1 January until 28 March, those on Tier 1 will receive $1,000 per fortnight while those on Tier 2 will see $650 per fortnight.
While this doesn’t kick in on exactly 1 January, it kicks in a few days later, on 4 January. Here’s more detail on what the extension means for you.
If you want to choose where your super goes...
Workers employed under an award or enterprise bargaining agreement can now do so. From 1 January, workers can’t be forced into an employer’s chosen super fund: new workers will have to be given a Standard choice form that lets them nominate their own super fund.
If you want to dip into your superannuation…
You won’t be able to anymore; the Covid-19 early access to super scheme ended on 31 December. You’ll now only be able to access your super in very limited circumstances.
If you’re building a new house…
The HomeBuilder scheme will be extended until 31 March – but grants for contracts signed after 1 January will be given at the lower sum of $15,000 rather than $25,000.
But there’s some good news: property price caps for new homes in NSW and Victoria have been brought up from $750,000 to $950,000 and $850,000 respectively.
If you operate a near-bankrupt small business…
The temporary debt relief measures introduced at the beginning of the pandemic will be wound back on 1 January. It means that the minimum amount of debt that can trigger bankruptcy is $10,000 (down from $20,000), and the time you have to respond to a bankruptcy notice is 21 days instead of six months.
You’ll only get 21 days of relief from creditors instead of six months.
But there’s some good news too: on 1 January, the government is also rolling out reforms to the national insolvency framework that has been described as “landmark” and “an absolute game-changer for small business” by Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell.
“These changes will ensure small businesses have the option to turn their business around, giving them a fighting chance to survive,” she said.
“Crucially, by moving to the ‘debtor in possession’ model, small businesses can restructure their debts while remaining in control of their business.
“For those businesses that sadly need to wind up, the liquidation process will be simpler, faster and cheaper.”
If you’re a foreign investor…
There will be new reforms kicking in on 1 January that require you to seek approval for investments in sensitive national security land or businesses.
You’ll also be subject to greater monitoring and investigation, as well as stricter rules and penalties.
If you need cheaper medicine…
Some new medicines have been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which subsidises certain prescription medications to lower the out-of-pocket costs for Australians.
The new medications will help those with blood cancer, psoriasis, and lung cancer. Here’s the full list of medicines on the PBS.
If you have kids that like sport…
Each Australian state bar the ACT has their own voucher scheme that provides parents between $100 to $200 a year to keep them active.
NSW Active Kids program: two $100 vouchers per child to cover kids’ sport and active recreation costs every year. Voucher 1 is valid from January to December, while Voucher 2 covers July to December
Victoria Get Active Kids voucher: $200 vouchers per child to cover membership, sports equipment or uniform costs
Queensland FairPlay voucher: $150 per child to cover membership or registration fees. Applications for Round 4 open on 20 January
South Australia Sports Vouchers: $100 per child (primary school to Year 7) to cover sports or dance membership or registration fees
Western Australia KidSport voucher: $150 discount per child towards club fees
Northern Territory Sport vouchers: two $100 vouchers per child (one in January, oe in July) towards sport, recreation or cultural activities
Tasmania Ticket to Play voucher: two $100 voucher per child towards club membership fees
If you operate a customer-facing business or venue...
You’ll need to ensure your business has a QR code with the Service NSW app – or you could face a $5,000 fine. Businesses have been asked by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to better assist contract tracers, who were having difficulty with other platforms.
If you have a young child...
Community and mobile preschools in NSW will be free for children between three and five years old.
It’s aimed at saving families more than $2,000 a year per child, and according to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will provide up to 15 hours of free childcare every week.
If your kids are creative…
Under the Creative Kids voucher scheme, parents and carers can receive a $100 discount per child to encourage them towards their creative pursuits. You can use this on participation or tuition costs in the creative arts, speech, drama, dance, design, coding, music lessons and more.
If you like dining out…
The state government is giving all adults four $25 vouchers to spend on meals at restaurants or cafes, as well as entertainment, such as cinemas, sight-seeing, museums and galleries, theme parks and recreational activities like bowling and more.
However, the details of this are being ironed out: a trial for the scheme in The Rocks was slated to start in December, but was delayed until January after a request from the hospitality industry.
The scheme will eventually be rolled out all across the state, but details about this haven’t yet been revealed.
If you like to travel…
The state government wants you to explore regional Victoria, so they’re reimbursing travellers $200 if you can prove you spent more than $400 on accommodation, experiences or entry fees in regional Victoria or the Yarra or Dandenong ranges.
But the vouchers are up for grabs on a first-come first-served basis; the next round opens up on 10am AEDT 20 January. Here’s how to apply for one.
When the first round opened up for registration, so many people flocked to the website that it buckled and crashed. Business Victoria ended up handing out an extra 30,000 vouchers to make up for it.
If you have a kindergartener…
Kindergarten will be free to Victorian parents in 2021. This is aimed at saving about $2,000 a child and help get more women back into work.
“This investment is dedicated to making the daily juggle of work, school and kinder just that little bit easier,” said Premier Daniel Andrews in November.
If you take public transport...
You won’t expect fares to go up. Public transport ticket prices will be frozen across the 2021 year to help customers save some money and encourage commuters back to the network.
If you work in the community services industry...
The state’s portable long service leave scheme, also called QLeave, will be extended to you. It’s currently available to workers in the building and construction sector as well as the contract cleaning industry.
From 1 January, those working in community services will benefit from the scheme as well.
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