Several Commonwealth measures that come into effect this New Year will benefit people in Port Macquarie.
Wider access to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY came into effect on January 1, for families in regional and rural areas through an increase in the combined parental income test from $150,000 to $160,000, with an additional $10,000 allowable for each additional child in the family.
This will help many young people get the chance to study by reducing pressure on family budgets.
Another important medicine, Afinitor, was added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on January 1. Afinitor treats people at risk of seizures caused by benign cancers and the cost will come down from $17,000 a year to a maximum of $40.30 per prescription, and $6.50 for concession card holders.
GST on tampons and other sanitary products was removed on January 1 at a saving to women across the country of $30 million.
From January 1 banks are required to take greater care in providing big credit card limits. By law they will now have to establish that people can afford to pay off their credit card debt within 3 years. This will help many people balance their budgets, and is just the first of many measures to be followed through by the government in the wake of the banking Royal Commission.
In New South Wales concession card holders who are on standing offers or non-discount plans with will get an automatic 10-15% discount applied to their bills at an average saving of between $169 and $180. While this is a commercial move by the major providers it is the latest power price cut built on the campaign launched and forcefully put by the Commonwealth to push prices down, and hold the big energy providers to account for bad deals.
I hope that 2019 is a safe, happy, and prosperous year for you.
As many will know I am not seeking re-election this year. It has been an honour to serve as your member in the federal parliament since 2001.