From 1 January 2016 there are many new laws and important changes to existing laws that are taking place and may affect you, your family or business. Here is an overview of some of the most topical legal changes for this year…
Travel & Road Safety
In New South Wales, new laws relating to cyclists will come into effect from 1 March 2016. From this date, cyclists over 18 must carry photo ID whilst cycling. Cyclists must also keep at least a one metre distance from pedestrians while travelling on shared paths.
Motorists must maintain a one metre distance from cyclists when travelling at a speed of 60km/h or less, and a distance of 1.5 metres when travelling at speeds over 60km/h.
Tougher penalties for drivers using mobile phones come into place in late January. Laws are already in place that mean drivers cannot touch their phones at all while driving unless they are passing it to a passenger; text at all, including the audio text function; use social media; video message; or take photos or videos – even if the phone is connected to a hands free device. From 22 January 2016, breach of the above will result in the loss of four, rather than the previous three, demerit points.
Finance and Low Income Earners
Nationwide, there are new caps on the amounts of tax deductible income streams which will have an effect on some aged care fees, income support payments and other government subsidies like the Low Income Health Care Card.
The Department of Human Services states
“the deductible amount for you and your partner’s defined benefit income streams will be capped. The deductible amount of a defined benefit income stream is also known as the tax free component. A defined benefit income stream is a pension paid from a public sector or other corporate defined benefit superannuation fund where the pension generally reflects years of service and final salary.”
In New South Wales, changes relating to the way real estate agents and other property sellers can convey financial quotes for properties to prospective buyers should reduce misleading or contradictory price information.
The new laws state that persons who state or publish a quote for a property that is less than a reasonable estimate of the property price will face penalties such as fines and loss of commission. Now, agents must state and publish reasonable quotes and use clear, accurate and reasonable language.
Health and Family
The topical ‘No Jab, No Play’ rules, under which Family Tax Benefit Part A and other childcare payments may only be accessed by parents who are up to date with their children’s immunisation schedule, have now come into effect.
Unless a medical exemption is given, these rules will prevent families who have not vaccinated their children from receiving some family-related government benefits.
If you are concerned about the impact these laws may have on you and would like advice, or for any other legal enquiry, give us a call on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box detailing your issue and we will get back to you ASAP.