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Centrelink payments, vaping laws and gas connections: The biggest changes coming to Australians from January 1

The new year is upon us, and with it comes a raft of changes for millions of Australians.

Welfare payments, vaping laws, childcare policy, pensioner earning limits, gas restrictions, rebates, toll road caps, and vaccine costs are all set to undergo changes effective from January 1, 2024.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Major changes coming to Australians from January 1.

Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>

While some of those changes will occur across the nation, others will only be recognised in specific states.

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Welfare payments

As part of a routine indexation which occurs each January, close to a million Centrelink recipients will receive a six per cent boost to their payments.

Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY, disability support pension, carer allowance, isolated children assistance, mobility allowance, double orphan pension and pharmaceutical allowance will all increase.

Those receiving Youth Allowance can expect an increase will be $22.40 and $25.80 per fortnight respectively for singles under 18, and over 18 living at home, and $36.20 for those living out of home.

Those with a partner and children will receive a $39.20 boost per fortnight, while anyone in a relationship without children gets a $36.20 increase.

Australians receiving Austudy will also get an increase between $36.20 and $45.60 per fortnight.

Those under 21 receiving a disability support pension will receive increases of $31.10 to $44.90.

More than 600,000 carers will benefit when the carer allowance increases to $153.50 a fortnight.

Vaping laws

Single-use vapes will officially be banned on January 1, under the first stage of Australia’s vaping reforms announced in mid-December by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“It means that it will be unlawful to import disposable vapes on or after 1 January 2024, even if those vapes were ordered before 1 January 2024 and have not yet arrived in Australia,” TGA said.

Retailers will be allowed “to run down their stock” of disposable vapes that do not contain nicotine, or any other medicine, and do not make therapeutic claims, subject to local laws.

The remaining stock of single-use prescription nicotine vapes will continue to be available in a pharmacy setting, too.

From March 1, fruity flavours will be scrapped even for prescription vapes, as new standards targeting manufacturers and importers limit flavours to mint, menthol and tobacco.

“Therapeutic vapes containing medicinal cannabis will continue to be regulated separately,” TGA said.

Kindergarten savings

Kindergarten will be free for all eligible Queensland children from January 1.

The government will subsidise 15 hours per week for 40 weeks.

“For some services, 15 hours of free kindy might be delivered over two or three days, with additional care paid for separately,” the Queensland Government said.

It is available for children who will be at least four years of age by June 30, in the year before they attend prep school.

In the ACT, parents will also be able to access 300 hours a year of free preschool for three-year-olds.

Pensioner earnings

Seniors and veterans who wish to keep working beyond the age of pension eligibility will be allowed to earn a larger figure before their pension payments are affected, as Work Bonus changes come into effect from January 1.

Work Bonus currently allows the first $300 of fortnightly income earned by a pension age workers to not assessed as income under the pension income test.

As of the new year, new eligible pensioners will start with a Work Bonus income bank balance of $4000 rather than $0.

And both new and existing recipients of Work Bonus will continue to have their balance limit elevated from $7800 to $11,800.

“Around 195,000 people commence on the Age Pension each year and will benefit from the $4000 Work Bonus starting balance,” Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said.

“If these pensioners choose to take up work or work more, their earnings will have less of an impact on their pension.”

No more gas connections

Cooking with gas will be a thing of the past for Victorians with new kitchens in the new year.

New homes requiring planning permits will need to connect to all-electric networks from January 2024.

The changes will apply to all new public buildings yet to reach the design stage, including housing, schools, and hospitals.

It comes as the state hopes to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, five years ahead of the federal government.

Southeastern Australia also faces potential gas shortages from mid-decade as output falls from the offshore fields which have long-supplied the region.

Victoria is the country’s largest consumer of natural gas, with about 80 per cent of homes connected

Other changes coming for January 2024

Public transport fees are set to be frozen for the duration of 2024 in Queensland.

In the Northern Territory, families will be able to apply for $100 Learn to Swim vouchers.

A toll road fee cap in NSW will mean that local motorists will potentially be able to save thousands per year.

But the incoming changes won’t be saving everyone money.

Victorians with second homes are set to pay more in land tax. The temporary changes will result in 860,000 landlords and holiday homeowners paying an extra $1300 a year on average.

In the ACT, thicker plastic bags will be banned in the final stage of a crackdown on single-use plastic.

And the 15 per cent global minimum tax and a domestic minimum tax for large multinationals will begin.

– With Reuters, AAP

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