Lowest private health insurance premium change in 17 years
The Nationals-Liberal Government’s reforms to take the pressure off private health insurance will deliver the lowest annual premium change in almost two decades. Health funds will have average weighted premium increases of 3.95 per cent from 1 April, 2018.
This is the lowest increase since 2001. From 1 April, a single person will pay an average of around $1.40 extra a week, while families will pay an average of around $2.75 extra a week for their private health insurance.
We know that every dollar matters to Australian families and although this is the lowest increase in 17 years, there is more work to be done. More than 13 million Australians have private health insurance and it is vital that cover is affordable and provides value for money.
Already the significant private health insurance reforms that we announced in October last year have made an impact and they will continue to drive down costs. Every single dollar of savings from the $1.1 billion reform of the Prostheses List is being passed onto consumers and this has already resulted in this lower premium change this year. To be clear – this reform alone will deliver savings of $1.1 billion to Australians with private health insurance.
We are also investing around $6.4 billion every year in the private health insurance rebate to help keep premiums affordable. As part of the reforms announced at the end of last year, we are acting to simplify private health insurance by requiring insurers to categorise products as gold/silver/bronze/basic.
We’re encouraging younger Australians to take up private health insurance by allowing insurers to discount premiums for 18 to 29 year olds by up to 10 per cent. To support Australians in regional and rural areas, insurers will be able to offer travel and accommodation benefits for people in regional and rural areas who need to travel for treatment.
There are 37 private health insurance funds operating in Australia and I encourage consumers to shop around to get the best deal for themselves and their families. Independent advice on health insurance — free of commissions — is available online at www.privatehealth.gov.au
Consultation on protecting your superannuation
The Nationals-Liberal Government has released draft legislation to protect workers’ superannuation entitlements and modernise the enforcement of the superannuation guarantee.
The draft laws will extend Single Touch Payroll to all employers from 1 July 2019, which will improve the reporting of superannuation obligations and improve the Australian Taxation Office’s ability to get real time information about an employer’s compliance. In addition, from 1 July 2018 superannuation funds will commence ‘event-based’ reporting to the ATO of payments they receive for employees from their employer.
Combined, these measures provide the ATO with more timely information to support earlier detection and proactive prevention of non-payment of superannuation that is rightfully owed to employees. The Government’s commitment to a Director Identification Number will help identify those directors who are robbing their employees of their superannuation.
There will now be serious consequences for employers who break the law. The ATO will have a suite of enforcement and collection tools, including strengthened arrangements for director penalty notices and security deposits for superannuation and other tax-related liabilities. And, in cases where employers defy directions to pay their superannuation guarantee liabilities, the ATO will be able for the first time to apply for court-ordered penalties, including up to 12 months imprisonment. To embed ongoing compliance the ATO will also have the ability to require employers to undertake training.
The draft legislation and supporting materials are available https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2018-t256652/ and interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide their views. Submissions are invited by 16 February 2018.
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
Australian businesses will benefit from significant new export opportunities after an agreement was reached on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP will eliminate more than 98 percent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of AUD 13.7 trillion.
The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the CPTPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
In 2016-17, nearly one quarter of Australia’s total exports, worth nearly $88 billion, went to CPTPP countries. This will continue to grow thanks to the significant increase in market access the CPTPP gives Australian exporters.
Significant wins for Australian exporters under CPTPP include:
• Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16
• Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering over $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
• New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, also for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.
• Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).