Money Your Budget The new laws, fees and regulations that will affect you in 2017
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The new laws, fees and regulations that will affect you in 2017

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A Sydney cafe is accused of short-changing an Italian cook. Photo: AAP
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A controversial change to the pension system is just one of the new laws set to affect the hip pocket of Australians from January 1.

Parents, overseas travellers and backpackers will also be impacted by new legislation that comes into effect on Sunday, while power prices are expected to rise in most parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the addition of a drug used by asthma sufferers to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, is among new-year measures welcomed by Australians.

Pensions

More than 300,000 retirees will have their pension cut or reduced after new asset test rules were introduced.

Another 170,000, or 4.3 per cent of pensioners, will find themselves better off.

The changes, aimed at reducing the impact to the budget while giving more to poorer pensioners, mean people will be able to own more assets and still qualify for assistance.

But the pension will be cut more quickly for those whose assets, not including the family home, exceed the new thresholds.

Health

Children will have access to $700 in dental care, rather than $1000, after cuts to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule as part of the funding announced earlier this month.

pensioners
Pensioners have raised concerns about changes to the assets test. Photo: AAP

The PBS price of a drug used to treat vitamin B1 deficiency has been cut, while from January 1, asthma sufferers will be able to purchase an important medication, Nucala, through the scheme.

Eight people died from a form of asthma during storms in Melbourne in November.

And payments to pharmacists serving Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services will increase.

Students

Under a new VET loan program, students looking to enter vocational educations will be able to borrow $5000, $10,000 or $15,000 for a limited range of courses.

But the new year will also see the closure of the Industry Skills Fund, which offers grants to help small businesses train staff.

Also, changes to Youth Allowance will benefit students living in regional and remote areas. They will have to work for 14 months, rather than 18, before they begin receiving payments.

dentist
Dental care changes have been announced for 2017. Photo: AAP

The government has also promised more funding to schools with students who have a disability.

In the tertiary sector, the government has simplified the way it allocates research grants. It says the changes mean an extra $76 million for universities.

Welfare

The government plans to push ahead with tougher compliance for welfare recipients, including a 10 per cent recovery fee, despite recent criticism of Centrelink’s new debt crackdown.

Welfare rule changes also mean new migrants won’t become eligible for various payments until they’ve been in the country for two years.

Childcare

The government’s mid-year budget update revealed a program that subsidises nanny fees will face cuts, with no new applications to be accepted in the new year.

Power bills

Electricity prices are expected to rise in most parts of the country, according to a report from the Australian Energy Market Commission.

The closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood power station in March means Australians will pay $78 more, on average, nationally.

The report said Western Australians would cop a 7 per cent increase, while those in New South Wales (3.9 per cent), Victoria (3.5 per cent) and South Australia (2.4 per cent) can also expect their bills to rise.

hazelwood power plant
The Hazelwood Power Station’s closure will lead to an increase in power prices. Photo: AAP

Travel

The cost of travelling for the first time, or the first time in a long time, is set to rise – at least for those without a valid passport.

Australians will pay $20 more for an adult passport, an extra $10 for children’s and seniors’ applications, while the price of priority processing price has increased by $54.

Backpackers

Late in the parliamentary year, the government managed to strike a deal with the Greens to secure its changes to the backpacker tax.

It means working holidaymakers will pay 15 per cent tax from the first dollar they earn. They won’t be eligible to claim the tax-free threshold and will lose 65 per cent of any super earned when they depart Australia.

The changes were welcomed by farmers, who were concerned a higher rate would deter backpackers from taking up work in rural areas.

-with AAP

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