Budget Savings measures pass through Parliament
It was another busy week in the Federal Parliament in Canberra last week. I was pleased that the Coalition Government was able to make tangible headway towards balancing the Budget with the passage of the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill.
The amended Bill passed through the Senate late on Thursday night after the Government secured support for the Bill from the Opposition.
This Bill contains more than $6 billion in savings measures and represents another major step forward in the Coalition Government’s continued work to repair Labor’s damage to the Commonwealth’s bank accounts. Restoring our Budget will arrest our debt, meaning we can protect our economy against significant economic shocks.
Welcome changes to Coalition’s superannuation policy
Following a Coalition party room meeting in Canberra on Thursday, the Government announced improvements to the superannuation changes that were contained in the 2016-17 Budget.
I welcome these changes to the Coalition’s superannuation policy. These changes will make Australia’s superannuation system even fairer, more flexible and more sustainable.
After extensive consultation, the Government will improve the measures that seek to restrict superannuation being used as an estate planning vehicle, while providing greater support for Australians investing in their superannuation with the primary objective of providing an income in their retirement.
The $500,000 lifetime non-concessional cap will be replaced by a new measure to reduce the existing annual non-concessional contributions cap from $180,000 per year to $100,000 per year.
Furthermore, individuals aged under 65 will continue to be able to ‘bring forward’ three years’ worth of non-concessional contributions in recognition of the fact that such contributions are often made in lump sums. The overwhelming bulk of such larger contributions are typically less than $200,000.
Individuals with a super balance of more than $1.6 million will no longer be eligible to make non-concessional (after tax) contributions from 1 July 2017. This limit will be tied and indexed to the transfer balance cap
It means that with their annual concessional contributions, Australians will be able to contribute $125,000 each year and, if taking advantage of the non-concessional ‘bring forward’ contributions, up to $325,000 in any one year until such time as they reach $1.6 million.
Applications open for remote airstrip upgrade funding
Access to some of the most remote parts of Australia will soon be improved with applications for Round Four of the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme now open.
The programme’s funding is further evidence of the Coalition Government’s support for remote communities.
We recognise the difficulties remote communities face accessing services in regional centres and how much they rely on air links for supplies, especially during the wet season.
People living in remote areas appreciate the importance of good transport links and how they underpin their communities – that’s why it is essential that anyone seeking funding to upgrade their local airstrip starts preparing their application now.
Round Four of the programme will be open for six weeks to give communities the chance to develop strong proposals.
This programme is a real boost for remote communities, by improving access to the rest of Australia and the delivery of essential services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and other emergency medical services.
The last round saw 52 projects funded across Australia and it would be great to see projects from this region succeed, so I encourage applicants to work up their submissions and put them forward for consideration.
Applications can be lodged by community groups, Indigenous organisations and local governments in remote areas and will be assessed on their ability to improve access and safety at remote airstrips to benefit communities.
Further information on the assessment criteria can be found in the guidelines.
Applications will close on 21 October 2016. Information, including the application form, can be found at: http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/regional/index.aspx