Past, present and future (Part 2)

Past, present and future (Part 2)

Past, present and future (Part 2) 1200 900 Integral Private Wealth

LEGISLATIVE CHANGES WITHIN GOVERNMENT SOCIAL SERVICES, AGRICULTURE AND EDUCATION PORTFOLIO’S

In this article, the second of a two-part series, we cover legislative changes to the Higher Education Loan Program, the Farm Household Allowance, the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, and overseas welfare recipients.

Leading up to the 2019 festive season, numerous Bills passed through the parliamentary process and became Acts (legislation); these legislative changes affect a wide range of personal finance areas.

Notably, regardless of whether you are a wealth accumulator or retiree, you may find that one or more of these legislative changes are of relevance to your financial situation, goals and objectives, now and into the future.

In this article, part two of a two-part series, we cover legislative changes that fall under the Government’s Social Services, Agriculture and Education portfolios:

Education Portfolio

  • The Higher Education Loan Program loan limits and debt repayments.

Agriculture Portfolio

  • The Farm Household Allowance and the financial hardship provisions.

Social Services Portfolio

  • The Paid Parental Leave Scheme and the dangerous jobs provision, and
  • Overseas welfare recipients and proof of life certificates.

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loan limit

Aviation courses

The renewable* HELP loan limit is currently set at $106,319 for most students.

However, for those students that are enrolled in courses of study in medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science courses, a higher HELP loan limit of $152,700 applies. Importantly, from 1 January 2020, students enrolled in eligible aviation courses now also have access to the higher HELP loan limit.

*Any repayments made on the HELP debt will credit the available HELP balance, up to the applicable HELP loan limit.
Education Legislation Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Bill 2019. Royal assent on 28th November 2019.

 

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt repayment

Teacher education courses

One of the key challenges faced by schools and early childhood education providers in very remote locations in Australia is the attraction and retention of teachers.

Education Legislation Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Bill 2019. Royal assent on 28th November 2019.

 

Farm household allowance (FHA)

Expansion of financial hardship provisions

The FHA program includes a time-limited income support payment that assists eligible farmers and their partners who are experiencing financial hardship. However, it’s important to note that they can be affected by multiple financial hardships over the course of their lifetime.

*A business that is a farm enterprise, and businesses that are directly related to the farm enterprise, such as agistment activities.
Farm Household Support Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill (No. 1) 2019. Royal assent on 28th November 2019.

 

Paid Parental Leave Scheme

Dangerous jobs provision

Under the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, eligible working parents can get tax-payer funded pay when they take time off from work to care for a newborn or recently adopted child. For example:

  • Parental Leave Pay – up to 18 weeks of leave paid at the national minimum wage.
  • Dad and Partner Pay – 2 weeks of leave paid at the national minimum wage.

When considering Parental Leave Pay, there are specific eligibility requirements that need to be met, amongst them is a work test. Namely, a person must have worked a minimum amount of time in the past 13 months:

  • 10 months of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of their child; and
  • 330 hours in that 10-month period with no more than a 12-week gap* between 2 working days.
*If their child’s birth or adoption was prior to 1 January 2020, then this was an 8-week gap.

However, it’s important to note that women can be employed in fields, such as construction or mining, where it’s not safe for them to continue to work while pregnant, and no alternative safe job can be provided.

Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Work Test) Bill 2019. Royal assent on 28th October 2019.

 

Overseas welfare recipients

Proof of life certificates

According to recent data, approximately 96,000 people reside permanently overseas and receive an Australian social security payment, and the majority are recipients of the Age Pension. To a large extent, the Government relies on voluntary reporting by family members or friends of the death of a pension recipient overseas.

However, recent data has also identified a disparity between the death rate of pensioners aged 80 years+ overseas and pensioners in Australia. This suggests voluntary reporting may not be occurring in some instances, or in a timely manner; consequently, payments are continuing where there is no longer a legal entitlement.

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Overseas Welfare Recipients Integrity Program) Bill 2019. Royal assent on 20th September 2019.

 

Other legislative changes

There have been other recent legislative changes that have occurred. However, we have already covered these in detail previously. If you would like further information on any of these, then a link to each is provided below:

 

If you would like to discuss any of the above mentioned legislative changes, and their relevance to your financial situation, goals and objectives, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Click here for part one of this two-part series where we cover numerous other recent legislative changes.

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