The Federal Government and the Opposition have come to an agreement on amendments to the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 to secure passage of $6.3 billion in savings.
Comprised of 20 cost-cutting measures, the bill quickly passed through the lower house yesterday and is expected to be fast-tracked through the Senate. Every budget saving has winners and losers, so YourLifeChoices looks at how families and older Australians may be affected by the changes.
You will find it difficult to avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge or to receive the Private Health Insurance Rebate, due to income cut-offs not being indexed for a further three years.
From January 2017, new claims for the Carer Allowance won’t be backdated up to 12 weeks.
Some low-income earners will keep their carbon tax compensation, with the Energy Supplement being preserved (around $4 a week). Those already in the welfare system before 20 September 2016 will continue to receive the payment.
New residents of aged-care facilities, who keep and rent out their family home will now have that rental income included in the income test for the pension.
Welfare recipients who owe the Government money will be prevented from leaving the country. Debts will now also be charged 9 per cent interest if a repayment arrangement can’t be agreed upon. Previously, the Government stopped pursuing social welfare debt after six years, but this limit has been removed.
The National Health Performance Authority has been closed, with duties transferred to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and other organisations.
The Family Tax Benefit Part-A end-of-year supplement of up to $726 a year will be discontinued for families earning around $80,000 and upwards.
The paid parental leave income test will remain at $150,000 for a further three years.
The Government’s plan to give families with a youngest child under one year old an extra $1000 a year through Family Tax Benefit part B has been scrapped.
Australia’s economic reform progress has been stalled for some time now, due to the balance of power in both houses shifting away from the Federal Government and a severe lack of bipartisanship. That all may change going forward with the Federal Government and opposition agreeing to reform terms on the Omnibus Bill that will cut $6.3 billion from the Budget.
Frankly, an agreement where both sides have made concessions for the greater good of the country has been a long time coming and it is refreshing to see party politics pushed to the side in an effort to balance the books.
The independents and minor parties provide checks and balances in the scheme of things, but decisions that will affect the long-term future of this country really need the majority parties to work together. This could very well be the first in a long line of reforms where by both major parties take a measured approach and agree to what is a fair middle ground.
What do you think? Do we need more bipartisanship between the major parties? Are there any changes in the Omnibus Bill that aren’t fair?