NEW ENGLAND NEWSLETTER FOR NOVEMBER 2015
NO JAB NO PAY
From the 1st of January parents will need to ensure their child’s immunisations are up-to-date to continue receiving Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and an FTB-A payment. Diseases like polio, tetanus and diphtheria pose a serious threat and immunisation is the safest and most effective way to protect our children from them. Currently Australia has childhood immunisation coverage of around 92 percent, but coverage of up to 95 percent is required to stop the spread of diseases such as measles and whooping cough. Whilst parents will still have the right not to vaccinate their child and therefore forfeit the payments, vaccination objections on the basis of personal or philosophical beliefs will no longer be a valid immunisation exemption for these payments. Exemptions will still apply for children who have a natural immunity or allergies to specific medicines if diagnosed by a general practitioner.
THE POSTMAN KNOCKS LESS OFTEN
From the 4th of next month Australia Post will offer three speeds for sending letters within Australia. Priority letters will be delivered in 1-4 business days depending on destination and senders will need to purchase a 50 cent Priority label and affix next to the postage stamp. Regular letters will be sent at the regular speed and will be delivered up to 2 business days longer than Priority speed. Express Post will not be changed and will continue to provide guaranteed next business day delivery. Australia Post’s application for a new stamp price of $1 has been approved by the ACCC, but the concession stamp price will be frozen at 60 cents for the 5.7 million concession card holders and the Christmas stamp price will be frozen at 65 cents for everyone.
WORK FOR THE DOLE
An independent evaluation of the Work for the Dole pilot which ran from 1 July 2014 has found the programme was effective in helping participants gain confidence and self-esteem and learn skills such as team work, communication and appropriate workplace behaviour. Eighty three per cent agreed that Work for the Dole is an opportunity to give back to the community; 81% said they were treated like a valuable member of staff and they were satisfied with the amount of responsibility they were given; and 68% said their placement was a valuable experience.
STUDENTS TO PAY UP
Australian taxpayers have lost an estimated $400 million to $800 million due to non-repayment of debts from students living overseas since the student loan scheme started in 1989.No government, until now, has tackled this issue. Whilst they have had to repay their HECS debt when they had employment in Australia and reached a certain income level, students who move overseas have no legal requirement to continue paying. This costs Australia approximately $30 million annually. From next financial year anyone who has a HELP or Trade Support Loan debt and reaches an income level of $54,126 will be required to make repayments regardless of where they live.
Written and authorised by Senator John Williams, 144 Byron Street, Inverell 2360
WILLIAMS REGIONAL DENTISTRY SCHOLARSHIP
Applications are now being accepted for the NSW Regional Dentistry Scholarship. I commit $4,800 annually to this scholarship to support a student with strong links to regional NSW to train for a professional dental career. There is a bonus this year – at a recent Australian Clubs’ dinner I won a raffle prize where the prize of $2,500 had to be donated to a not-for-profit organisation or event of my choice. This will also go into the dental scholarship pool. Please forward this information to any young person you known who has just left Year 12 or have been in their gap year and will be undertaking dentistry. The Application Form and Application Guidelines will be available at www.ruralhealth.org.au and applications will close on 15 February 2016.
CHAPLAINCY BADGE UNCHANGED
Many people contacted my office concerned at news reports the word “conquer” was to be removed from the Australian Army Chaplaincy badge to appease minority groups. I can assure you these reports are incorrect and the Chief of the Army is not contemplating any such change.
SCRUTINY OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT
Legislation has passed to strengthen scrutiny and transparency of foreign investment in Australian agriculture through Parliament. This was an election commitment and formalises the new agricultural land foreign ownership register, and the lowering of the general screening threshold for FIRB scrutiny of proposed foreign purchases of agricultural land by private investors from $252 million to $15 million. The FIRB scrutiny threshold for agribusiness reduces from $252 million to $55 million—with a common sense definition of agribusiness as certain first stage processing immediately outside the farm gate, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, fruit & vegetable processing, and sugar, grains and oils & fat manufacturing. These lower thresholds of $15 million and $55 million will also apply to the free trade agreements negotiated and concluded under the Coalition Government. The threshold for scrutiny of proposed purchases by government-related entities remains at zero. There will also be a register of foreign ownership of water entitlements.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW
Every year, around 4 million Australians suffer some form of mental health issue making it the third largest chronic disease in the country. The economic cost of mental illness to Australia ranges up to $40 billion a year in direct and indirect costs and lost productivity. A significant share of this can be averted if the right services are put in place. The Government will phase in over three years a better targeted programme that also encompasses youth and indigenous mental health strategies.
Inverell meat processor Bindaree Beef has just celebrated its 20th anniversary operating the Inverell plant. In that time it has processed 5.2 million cattle, paid $750 million in wages, over $5 billion to local cattle producers, employed over 7,000 people and exported beef to 70 countries. A real regional success story.
This will be my final newsletter before Christmas so on behalf of Nancy and my staff Greg, Heather, Debbie, Gary and Lynne I wish you a happy festive season. Regards, John
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