The new laws that come into effect at midnight
Many of us will be happy to put 2020 behind us and embrace a fresh new year.
But once the clock strikes midnight and ushers in January 1, 2021, a slew of new regulations will come into effect.
Here are the changes that will affect the lives of millions of people across the country.
JobKeeper, the economic stimulus to keep workers in jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be cut on January 4, 2021 and will be axed completely on March 28, 2021.
From January 4 until March 28, 2021, the payment will drop from $1200 to $1000 for full-time workers and from $750 to $650 per fortnight for part-time employees, after being cut from around $1500 a fortnight back in September.
The JobKeeper stimulus was introduced to provide support for businesses who faced financial losses to be able to pay their employees and keep them in jobs.
JOBSEEKER PAYMENTS DROP
JobSeeker was created to support people who suddenly found themselves out of work due to the pandemic and replaced Newstart Allowance.
JobSeeker payment recipients and recipients of other eligible payments receive the coronavirus supplement on top of their base rate of payment.
It was paid at an initial rate of $550 per fortnight until September 24.
Then it was extended and at a rate of $250 per fortnight until December 31. From January 1 to March 31, the coronavirus supplement will continue to be paid but at a rate of $150 per fortnight.
NEW RULES FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT
Australia's foreign investment review framework, the "FIRB regime", will come into effect at the start of the year, which will address national security, compliance and approval processes.
Among the changes, all investments in land or businesses related to sensitive national security must be approved, and the Treasurer will have strengthened monitoring, investigation and enforcement powers.
LUMP SUM TAX CUT
We'll all be getting an extra tax boost when we file our tax return in 2021.
Early tax cuts were implemented in October 2020, with a tax relief plan announced in the budget.
Workers have been receiving half of their early tax cuts in their pay, while the second lot of the tax relief will come mid-year when Aussies do their tax return.
The lump sum employees will get in their tax return will be the backdated amount from July 1, 2020 - which is about four to five months worth of tax cash.
PBS SUBSIDY FOR CANCER DRUG
If you have ovarian cancer, your medication costs could be set to decrease with the listing of the drug Lynparza on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Instead of costing more than $140,000 per course, patients will now access the medicine at $6.60 per script for concession card holders, and around $41 per script for general patients.
PENALTIES FOR DRUG USE IN SPORT
Athletes who test positive to banned substances will face up to a one-month sanction, compared to a possible four-year ban previously starting from January 1.
However, the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List said such a discretion applies only if it's proved the substance was taken out of competition, unrelated to sporting performance and a drug rehabilitation program undertaken.
The reduced sanction may also apply retrospectively.
Other changes include athletes who use asthma medication which contains vilanterol will no longer require a therapeutic use exemption if the levels are below the manufacturer's maximum recommended dose.
NEW ROAD RULES
A new national road safety strategy is being rolled out for the decade from 2021 to 2030, expected to be finalised and approved in early 2021.
As part of the Road Safety Plan 2021, penalties will be strengthened to further deter reckless and hazardous driving.
PENSIONERS TO RECEIVE $250
Five million pensioners will pocket $250 in Economic Support payments that will be tax-free.
They have been delivered progressively from December, with another payment by March next year.
They will be paid to aged pensioners, disability support pensioners, eligible veterans, concession cardholders, families receiving Family Tax Benefit, Carers Allowance recipients and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders and pensioner concession cardholders are also eligible to receive the payment.
HIKE IN ROAD TOLLS
Sydney motorists will see toll charges on the WestConnex M8 and M5 East increase by 4 per cent on January 1.
Drivers travelling northbound on the Eastern Distributor will be charged $8.21, up from $8.08 last quarter, while the Hills M2 will see a slight increase in tolls ranging from roughly 1.3 to 1.8 per cent.
Toll prices on the Lane Cove Tunnel, M5 South-West, Cross City Tunnel will remain the same.
BAN ON EXPORT OF WASTE GLASS
Australia's waste export ban will become law on January 1.
Waste companies will have to hold a licence and meet requirements before exporting from Australia, in a bid to curb unprocessed materials being dumped overseas and encourage recycling.
The new law, which was scheduled for July 1 this year, was delayed during the pandemic.
BUS FARES FOR RURAL AND REGIONAL NSW
Travel fares for rural and regional residents will be slashed, saving travellers up to 30 cents on short trips between 3km and 8km and fares for longer-distance trips over 200km nearly halved.
From Friday, concession fares will also be offered at half the adult fares, and cheaper and simpler daily tickets introduced.
CHANGES TO QR codes
From January 1, the NSW Government will make compulsory the use of Service NSW apps for businesses who require their customers to check in with QR codes.
Businesses that do not implement the technology could be fined $5000 and, in outbreak hot spots, COVID-19 marshals would be required at the door to ensure patrons have checked in.
RETIREMENT VILLAGE BUYBACKS
Two years after they were first touted, the NSW Government has forced through changes to the Retirement Village Act 1999 that introduce six-month buybacks for villages in metropolitan areas and 12 months in regional areas.
Under the reforms, operators are now required to pay exit entitlements to residents if a unit remains unsold after six months in metropolitan areas or 12 months in the regions.
Residents will be eligible to receive their exit entitlements if they have not taken reasonable steps to facilitate a sale.
Operators will also have to cover a portion of the estimated sale price for residents entering residential care directly to their aged care provider so residents who can't sell their home quickly can still pay a DAP, with a 42-day cap also placed on the payment of recurrent charges for general services.
The changes were recommended following Kathryn Greiner AO's independent report into NSW retirement villages conducted in 2017.
The new laws will apply only to registered interest holders with a long-term registered lease that gives them at least 50 per cent of any capital gain.
The changes will not apply to unregistered interest holders, registered interest holders who own a lot in a strata or community scheme village or own shares in a company title village that gives them their resident right.
DEMERIT SYSTEM FOR VENUES
The new reforms will create a demerit point system for venues that replaces the current "three strikes" system.
There would be escalating sanctions for multiple breaches of liquor laws, with venues facing a seven-day suspension if they accrue four demerit points over a three-year period.
This could be extended to two weeks if six or more points are incurred over three years, with the Liquor & Gaming having the power to permanently disqualify the licence-holder or, for registered clubs, the secretary.
The state government claims the new system aims to incentivise well run venues, minimise violence and reduce serious liquor law breaches.
The Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020 will merge three separate sanctions schemes into a consolidated system to make it easier for venue operators to understand their obligations.
The government has also committed to improving the approvals process for small bar licences and allow small bars to offer more family-friendly and diverse services to customers, to support small business and encourage use of this "lower-risk licence".
Children will be permitted to accompany responsible adults into small bars up until midnight.
It will also remove archaic liquor licence conditions that determine what types of music venues can play.
Originally published as The new laws that come into effect at midnight