BUDGET: Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison.
BUDGET: Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison.

BUDGET: top items to impact on older Australians

WITH the words - fairness, security and opportunity - ringing in our ears, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has tabled the Government's 2017-18 right choices budget.

Mr Morrison wants us to believe that this budget is making the right choices for Australians, but for older Australians there are some gaps alongside some gains in what the government has put forward.

The government's catch phrases for its budget tabling were - a fair and responsible path back to budget balance, stronger growth to create more and better paid jobs, guaranteeing essential services for Australians, placing downward pressure on rising costs of living and ensuring the government lives within its means. 

In coming days and weeks there will be plenty of discussion as to whether the government has achieved with this budget, these lofty ambitions. 

In the meantime, Ian Yates of the Council of the Ageing has already stated the budget has gaps for older Australians with nothing in the budget to help manage significant oral health, mental health and elder abuse issues.

"And while the government has announced it will be combining many working age welfare payments, they remain at an unacceptably low level," Mr Yates said.

Throughout the budget issues are other decisions that impact on Seniors in one way or another, however, there are some that are clearly targeted at older Australians.

Here is a summary of them -

HEALTH

  • Medicare Levy, for anyone earning a taxable income, will increase to 2.5% from July 1, 2019.
  • Medicare Levy thresholds for seniors and pensioners changes to $34,244 and for families to $47,670.  
  • The BreastScreen Australia program for women from 70 to 74 years of age will receive an additional funds.
  • Palliative care services that allow people to be cared for in their home rather than in hospitals or hospices, will funding.
  • GP bulk billing is back from July 2018.
  • More money for programs supporting more activity and healthy lifestyles.
  • Cheaper medicines through promoting the purchase of generic brands.
  • Price reductions on some PBS medicines including seven used for arthritis relief.
  • A lot more money to be spent on mental health research.
  • Funding for more prostate cancer nurses. 

AGED CARE

  • Extension of the Commonwealth Health Support Program and Regional Assessment Services.
  •  Establishment of an industry-led Aged Care workforce taskforce.
  •  More funds for the operation of the My Aged Care platform.
  • Funds for boosting rural, regional and suburban areas workforce to meet expected growth in disability and aged care sectors.

SUPERANNUATION

  • People aged 65 or over can a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 (or $600,000 for a couple) from the proceeds of selling their principal place of residence, July 1, 2018. They will be exempt from the existing age test, work test and the $1.6m cap.

LEGAL

  • Community Legal Centres are having their federal funding is reinstated.
  •  Funding for the expansion of domestic violence units in legal centres around Australia.

FINANCE

  • Small business owners get immediate deductibility on eligible assets.
  • One-off electricity assistance fund, payable before June 30, for people on qualifying pensions.
  • Changes to rules on receipt of the Age Pension for people who have been resident in Australia for less than 10 years.
  • Reinstatement of the Pensioner Concession Card.

COMMUNITY   

  •  Increase in funding for ongoing homelessness support services.
  • Establishment of a retail electricity prices inquiry.
  • Increased funding for financial and social support services for veterans. 

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