4.7 million Australians to benefit from indexation
Around 4.7 million pension and allowance recipients will receive an increase to their welfare payments from 20 March. The increases will help pensioners and allowance recipients to keep up with increases in living costs.
From 20 March, pension payments including Age Pension and Disability Support Pension will increase by $13.20 a fortnight to $907.60 for singles, and by $19.80 a fortnight to $1,368.20 for couples combined. Individuals receiving Newstart Allowance, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance, and Sickness Allowance will benefit from an increase of $7.00 a fortnight to $554.60. Members of a couple will see an increase of $6.30 a fortnight to $503.40. The Parenting Payment (Single) will increase by $9.80 to $774.40 a fortnight.
Rent Assistance rates also increase from 20 March, as do a range of income and assets limits for pensions and allowances, as a result of indexation. Payment rates for pensions and allowances are adjusted twice a year. Pension increases are linked to prices and wages, and allowances are linked to the Consumer Price Index. Full details of new rates and thresholds is available at www.dss.gov.au
Inquiry into the effectiveness of the implementation of the Basin Plan
The Coalition Government has announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into the effectiveness and implementation of the Basin Plan and water resource plans.
The Basin Plan supports the integrated management of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin to optimise social, economic and environmental outcomes.
This inquiry will fulfil the statutory requirement for the first of the Commission’s five-yearly assessments of the effectiveness of the Basin Plan and water resources plans as required by the Water Act 2007.
The Commission is due to report to Government by 31 December 2018.
Public consultation will be undertaken as part of the inquiry and the Government encourages all interested parties to participate. Further information and the terms of reference are available on the Commission’s website: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/basin-plan
A record year for small-scale solar
Australia has cemented itself as a world leader in the use of rooftop solar with yet another record for installed capacity. Figures released by the Clean Energy Regulator show that there was more than 1057 megawatts of capacity installed last year, beating the previous record of 1035 megawatts set in 2012.
This brings the total installed small-scale capacity in Australia to more than 6000 megawatts. Australia has the highest penetration of rooftop solar in the world. One in five Australian homes has rooftop solar and an increasing number of small businesses are making the most of the financial and environmental benefits of solar.
The Clean Energy Regulator predicts 2018 will see at least another 1000 megawatts of capacity added to Australian rooftops. The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme provides financial incentives for households and businesses to install renewable energy systems to reduce their reliance on the electricity grid and reduce their emissions.
Earlier this year, the Clean Energy Regulator announced the Renewable Energy Target will be met thanks to more than $12 billion of investment in large-scale projects. Whether it is small or large-scale projects, there continues to be record breaking level of investment in renewable energy under the Nationals-Liberal Government.