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Plastic bag ban

From July 1, WA has banned single-use, lightweight plastic bags from major retailers. Retailers will no longer be able to supply single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness. Plastic bags used for bin liners, nappy bags, dog waste bags, department bags and small fruits and vegetables bags will still be available.

 

Tax cuts

There is a new rebate for people earning up to $125,000 a year. The low and middle income tax offset will be paid as part of the tax return at the end of the 2018-19 financial year and will mean between $200 and $530 extra depending on how much someone earns.

There is also a tax cut for people earning more than $87,000 a year because the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket goes from $87,000 to $90,000. Companies with a turnover of between $25 million a year and $50 million a year will pay a lower rate of corporate tax from 1 July 2018. It will fall from 30 per cent to 27.5 per cent.

 

Minimum wage increase

The Fair Work Commission announced a 3.5% increase to minimum wages. This will bring the national minimum wage to $719.20 per week, on the basis of 38 ordinary hours per week, or $18.93 per hour. The increase amounts to an extra $24.30 per week.

 

Penalty rate changes

Sunday penalty rates in the fast food, hospitality, pharmacy and retail industries are changing, following a Fair Work Commission decision last year. Fulltime and part-time hospitality workers will have penalty rates decrease by 10% while causal employees will continue to get the same rate. Retail workers’ income will drop by 15% with an extra 5% decrease for casual workers. Pharmacy employees’ penalty rates will drop by 15% and 10% for fast food employees.

 

Child Care Subsidy

The new Child Care Subsidy has replaced both the current Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. Families will need to complete an online means test before the start date in order to receive any child care fee assistance. A family’s annual adjusted taxable income will determine the percentage of subsidy they are eligible for.

Families earning $186,958 or less will have no cap on the amount of Child Care Subsidy they can claim. Families earning over $186,958 and under $351,248 will benefit from an increase in the current cap of $7,613 to $10,190 per child, per year.

 

Passport changes

Glasses will not be allowed in new passport photos taken from 1 July 2018. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that it will strengthen the integrity of the Australian passport, “research has shown that glasses adversely affect passport facial matching. Matching is more accurate without glasses.” Limited exemption for medical reasons may apply if supported by a medical certificate.

 

Amazon will no longer ship to Australia

Amazon is making changes to what Australian customers can buy and which parts of the company they can access. However, from 1 July 2018, local customers wanting their goods delivered to an Australian address will only be able to purchase goods from Amazon’s Australian website, which was launched last year. It will redirect all customers using the US website with an Australian shipping address back to the local one.

Amazon says it is making the change to remain compliant with new GST collection laws coming into effect in the new financial year. From 1 July 2018, online retailers required to register for GST will need to account for GST on sales of low value imported goods.

 

Changes to food labels

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission introduced the country of origin food labelling in 2016 and from 1 July 2018, it will be placed on most foods offered for retail sale. The familiar green and gold kangaroo in a triangle will still appear on Australian products but, a new indication bar will show the percentage of Australian produce contained in the product.

For foods that are imported from overseas but packaged locally, they will say “packed in Australia”. Non-priority foods must carry a country of origin text statement about where the food was grown, produced, made or packed. All priority foods will feature the kangaroo logo, a bar chart and text identifying the proportion of Australian content in the food.

 

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