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Happy New Year! As 2023 brings about increasingly changing times, the state and federal government have brought about many amendments to various laws. They will be explored below:

Centrelink Payment Boost

From 1 January 2023, Centrelink payments will be increased to index against inflation. Particularly, there is a significant increase in the payment for Youth Allowance, Austudy and the Disability Support Pension.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

The PBS initiative was created in 1948 in Australia for the intent of lowering costs for prescriptions by subsidizing medicine, especially for pensioners, seniors and veterans. However, 2023 is a landmark year for the PBS, since it’s the first time in history that the general co-payment for medicines have decreased. In-fact, all Australians will save up to almost 29% on PBS prescriptions.

Limited Access to Free COVID PCR Testing

Effective from 1 January 2023, those who are not elderly, First Nation’s, disabled or immunocompromised will have to either:

  1. Request a PCR test from a GP-led respiratory clinic; or
  2. Request a local GP for a PCR test from a pathology provider; or
  3. Seek a referral from a medical practioner, such as your local GP, prior to requesting a PCR test at a state clinic.

Educational Subsidies

Fee-Free TAFE

The federal, state and territory governments are contributing towards 180,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational training placements for education deemed a national priority. This includes aged care, technology, hospitality and tourism, construction, agriculture and sovereign capability.

Increased University Subsidies

Furthermore, there will be an extra 20,000 Commonwealth supported places offered for entry into university.

Increased Benefits for Downsizing

As of 1 January 2023, if you sell your principal home or place of residence, the funds from the sale proceeds to be used for renovating, developing or purchasing your new principal home are not included in your assets test. This may assist in significantly reducing your deemed income for aged pension calculations.

Furthermore, the age eligibility regarding contributions to super from the proceeds of a house sale have decreased from age 60 to 55. This eases the process for those older residents who are downsizing.

Mental Health Initiative Slashed

Visits to a psychologist, or an allied mental health service that could be rebated by Medicare have been sharply reduced from twenty consultations to ten recently.

Plan for Plastics

Plan for Plastics began in 2022, with the intent of reducing the use of single-use plastics, and promoting environmentally friendly alternatives. Stage 1 has currently been in progress with the removal of single-use plastic plates, cutlery, bowls and many other items. The preceeding stage two for the Plan for Plastics will begin this February 2023. This will include the ban of:

  1. Expanded polystyrene (foam) packaging;
  2. Degradable plastics;
  3. Produce bags;
  4. Expanded polystyrene (foam) cups;
  5. Coffee cups and lids;
  6. Lids for cups, bowls and takeaway food containers;
  7. Cotton buds with plastic shafts; and
  8. Micro beads.

Recreational Fishing Changes

From 1 February 2023, the temporary, two-month demersal closure that is in force will be extended to a total of six months for recreational fishers in the West Coast Bioregion; from Kalbarri to Augusta.

The updated seasonal dates outline that catching demersal scale fish from a boat will be prohibited from:

  • 1 February to 31 March (inclusive);
  • 1 August to the beginning of the September/October school holidays; and
  • The end of the September/October school holidays until 15 December (inclusive).

Lynn and Brown Lawyers encourage anyone who has questions regarding the upcoming laws being introduced to get in touch with one of our experienced family lawyers. You can contact us at www.lynnandbrown.com.au or by calling 9375 3411.

About the Authors: This article has been co-authored by Manav Patel and Jacqui Brown. Manav is in his final year studying a Bachelor of Commerce with a Major in Business Law and Finance. Manav will commence his Juris Doctor in 2023 at the University of Western Australia. Jacqui is a Perth lawyer and director at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Jacqui has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in family law, mediation and estate planning. Jacqui is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Notary Public.

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