$2,000 Self-education cap scrapped

The Coalition Government reversed Labor’s $2,000 cap on tax deductibility of self-education expenses. 

Removing the cap is great news for thoughs of Doctors, nurses, teachers and others who would have struggled to afford critical education courses and vital self-accreditation.

Doctors are required to undertake continuing medical education in order to retain not only their active status in the various specialist Medical Colleges but also to retain their basic registration with the Australian Medical Board. 

The $2,000 cap on tax deductibility on fees for attendance at such activities grossly underestimated the cost of post graduate medical education courses. We should be rewarding people who are prepared to invest in their own skills, not penalising them with such a cap.





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Morrison – Stronger border measures to combat outlaw motorcycle gangs

The Coalition Government has today strengthened its commitment to re-enforcing Australia’s borders against illicit activities and working cooperatively with agency partners to disrupt Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG).

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison, has t announced four new measures that will form part of the Commonwealth and State governments’ coordinated effort to thwart Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.  These initiatives include:

1)    Linking the multi-agency Anti-Gang Intelligence Coordination Centre (AGICC) with the future National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) through staff exchanges and data sharing;

2)    Fusing ACBP’s passenger data with AGICC and the ACC’s data holdings to identify cross-border OMCG movements;

3)    Supporting Federal and State police anti-OMCG operations at the border; and

4)    Analysing trade data to identify OMCG linkages for intelligence purposes.

“The Government’s new initiatives will enable an enhanced level of cooperation between Commonwealth and State partners and it is through initiatives such as this that we tighten our grip on organised crime.

“The sharing and leveraging of information available from other law enforcement agencies will improve the likelihood of detections at the border and act as a strong deterrent to organised criminal syndicates involved in illicit importations.

“I welcome the new Victorian Strike Team announced this morning by my colleague the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP and Victorian Premier the Hon Denis Napthine.

“Immigration and Customs personnel will provide the Strike Team with quality intelligence and resources to actively target illegal goods brought into this country and to help disrupt and inhibit the movement of outlaw motorcycle gang members.

“The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has out posted officers to the AGICC as well as collaborating closely with other State, Federal, Commonwealth and international agencies to work with law enforcement partners and share information and intelligence to assist in the disruption of OMCG.

“These new measures will ensure the Australian government is better equipped not only to protect our borders but to keep Australians safe behind our borders,” Minister Morrison said.

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Andrews – Income Boost for Pensioners as deeming rates lowered

More than 740,000 Australian pensioners will benefit from the lowering of the social security deeming rates from 4 November 2013.

The Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, said the deeming rate will decrease to 2 per cent from 2.5 per cent for financial investments up to $46,600 for single pensioners and allowees, $77,400 for pensioner couples and $38,700 for each member of an allowee couple.

The upper deeming rate will decrease to 3.5 per cent from 4 per cent for balances over these amounts.

“The deeming rules are a central part of the social security income test,” Mr Andrews said.

“They are used to assess income from financial investments for social security and Veterans’ Affairs pension/allowance purposes.

“This announcement means that part-rate pensioners and allowees will have less income assessed from their investments and receive a boost in Government income support.

“Returns available to pensioners and other allowees have decreased since deeming rates were last changed, in March 2013.

“This announcement brings the deeming rates in line with available financial returns,” Mr Andrews said.

Deeming rates reflect the rates of return that people receiving income support payments can earn from their financial investments. If income support recipients earn more than these rates, the extra income is not assessed.

Payments affected by the deeming rates include means tested payments such as the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment, income support allowances and supplements such as the Parenting Payment and Newstart, paid by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

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Corman – Coalition commences scoping study for sale of medibank private

The Coalition has long been committed to the sale of Medibank Private.

Medibank Private is a commercial business operating in a well functioning and competitive market with 34 competing funds.

As such there is no compelling policy reason for the Government to continue to own Medibank.

The privatisation of Medibank will also remove the current conflict where the Government is both the regulator of the private health insurance market as well as a large market participant in a competitive market.

Proceeds from a sale of Medibank would allow the Government to fund other policy priorities or pay off debt.

The Government has the authority to proceed with this sale through the Medibank Private Sale Act 2006, which the former Government chose not to repeal over the past six years.

The Coalition is committed to progress the sale of Medibank Private through a proper and methodical process provided market conditions are right for the sale.

Today we announce the first step in that process, the commencement of a scoping study into the sale of Medibank Private.

The scoping study will commence by the end of November and will be provided to Government by the end of February 2014.

This will enable proper consideration of the sale in the context of the 2014/15 Budget process.

The process will be administered by the Department of Finance, which early next week will commence a competitive tendering process to appoint advisers to conduct this scoping study.

The scoping study will provide recommendations on all relevant aspects of the sales process, including the sale method, timing, cost, relevant regulatory issues, estimated proceeds and the readiness of Medibank Private for sale.

It will be framed around the Government’s objectives for the sale, which are:

–   to contribute to an efficient, competitive and viable private health insurance industry;

–   to maintain service and quality levels for Medibank contributors, including in regional and rural Australia;

–   to ensure the sale process treats Medibank employees in a fair manner, including through the preservation of accrued entitlements;

–   to minimise any post sale residual risk and liabilities to the Government; and

–   having regard to all of the above objectives, to maximise the net sale proceeds from the sale.

The scoping study will allow the Government to make fully informed decisions on all relevant aspects of the sale.

Importantly, the Government has not made any decisions yet regarding the timing and structure of the sale.

We will await the findings and recommendations of the scoping study before making those decisions.

During this process Medibank Private will continue to operate as usual and services to policy holders will not be affected.

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Hunt – No change in domestic emissions under the carbon tax

There is further proof that the carbon tax is a pointless burden on Australian families and businesses.

The latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory report released today shows Australia’s emissions for the year to March 2013 are unchanged from the previous year.

We already knew that the carbon tax is a multi-billion hit on the economy, a burden on households and an unfair impost on business. Now we know that in the first year of the carbon tax there has been no change in our emissions.

To make the situation worse, projections see domestic emissions rise to 637 million tonnes in 2020 under the carbon tax.

There is a better way. 

The Government’s Direct Action Plan will actually cut emissions without an economy-wide tax. Central to the plan is the Emissions Reduction Fund – a market-based mechanism to achieve our reduction target.

Australians don’t need a carbon tax. Australians don’t want a carbon tax. It’s time for Bill Shorten to accept the outcome of the election and allow the repeal of the carbon tax.

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