What you need to know about the new laws that came into effect yesterday

It’s a new year but already, we’re feeling the pinch. An array of new laws came into effect yesterday, January

It’s a new year but already, we’re feeling the pinch. An array of new laws came into effect yesterday, January 1, and mean a bit more than just a dollar or two difference.

Here’s what to expect:

Australia Post

The cost of a sending a standard letter through Australia Post is now $1, up from 70 cents in 2015, and increase of more than 40 per cent.


From yesterday, changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) took effect, with about 17 items being removed from the list, including:

  • antacids (eg Gaviscon, Mylanta and Gastrogel)
  • paracetamol (eg Panamax, Panadol Osteo)
  • iron tablets (eg Ferro-Gradumet)
  • aspirin – pain and blood-thinning products
  • B12 injections
  • hydrocortisone creams and ointments
  • folic acid tablets (eg Megafol)

By eliminating these drugs, the Government expects to save $80 million per year which will be used to subsidise other drugs.

The new rules mean pharmacies can offer a $1 discount on PBS prescriptions to help offset the impact of these changes, however this now means customers will take longer to reach their Safety Net threshold – 60 concessional prescriptions at $6.20 each for the year.


While the Higher Education Loan Program mightn’t affect our over 60 readers directly, it has positive benefits for our Government’s revenue: former university students living overseas must pay back their tertiary study loans. Previously, any Australian living overseas didn’t have to pay back the debt, leading to billions of lost money for the Government.

Opal Card ticket changes

If you haven’t switched to the Opal Card yet and you live in Sydney or surrounds, it might be a good idea. From January 1, the only paper tickets available will be single Adult and Concession tickets (trains, buses, ferries and light rail) and return Adult and Concession tickets (trains, ferries and light rail).

Up to half a million pensioners and seniors have had to sign up for a Gold Opal pass, or otherwise be left paying regular concession fares.

How to get an opal card

Buying and selling a home

Are you planning to buy or sell a home in 2016? These new laws are important.

Underquoting laws will be overhauled to help make it easier to for sellers and buyers who are not getting the true price for a property.

Under amendments to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 agents will be required to provide written evidence of their estimated selling price to the vendor and this estimate must be stated in the agency agreement.

Residential and rental care agreements

Rental income will be included in the aged care means test for all new Residential Care recipients and some existing Residential Care recipients from January 1. Previously, rental income from a Residential Care recipient’s former principal home was included in the aged care means test if they made lump sum accommodation payments. Residential Care recipients, entering care after January 1, 2016, will have rental income from their former principal home included in the aged care means test. See the Human Services website for more information.

Other laws by state

South Australia

Households can earn extra money by selling solar power back to the network, by getting 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour, up from 5.3 cents per kW/h.

Gamblers will be able to able to access EFTPOS facilities inside hotel and club pokie lounges.

Cheaper wills: The tiered probate fee structure means fees will range from $750 to $3000 based on estate value.

There will be a 24-hour limit on time mental health patients should wait in an emergency department before being admitted to an acute hospital bed


From March 1 2016, cyclists over 18 must carry photo ID and new rules also state bicycle riders should keep a metre’s distance from pedestrians on shared paths, where possible.

Victoria and Queensland

The No Jab, No Play policies will be introduced in Victoria and Queensland – children must be up-to-date with immunisations before they can attend childcare.


Residents will see a five per cent reduction in power bills.

Tell us, how will these new laws affect you?



  1. Thank you, good to know. didn’t see the transport changes?

  2. For those who are on Aged Pensions there are stamps available at the concession rate of 50c each and you are entitled to 50 per year. They come in strips of five or you can buy your yearly quota in one hit. These rates won’t be going up for this calendar year at least according to the latest brochures. You can only purchase them from the post office and they provide you with a keycard to keep a record of how many you’ve purchased for the year.

    • Jennifer, I think the concession stamps are 60 cents. However, they are certainly worth the effort to obtain. Just ask at your PO.

    • Meg we only purchased some the week before Christmas and they were still 50 cents – at least in Qld – and we were told they weren’t going up after January.

      • Linda Mitchell  

        i live in Townsville. Bought co session stamps before Christmas and was charged at 60c per stamp.
        After the 1st January if we need letters to be delivered within 2 days of posting we have to put a priority sticker on as well as a stamp. This sticker costs 50c. So for a senior to post a letter will cost $1.10 unless we are happy for it to take about 6 days to be delivered.

    • Well, there you go. I have a collection in use now – can only claim aged memory! Also in Qld.

    • In Vic it is 60cents per stamp and as from 4th jan can pay 5cents extra for quicker delivery. Can only get these labels at PO

    • Pam Ballard I got a notice from Australia Post about this, by memory you should allow 4 days for local delivery, or pay addittional for quicker delivery.

    • I’m confused! Why would concession stamps cost less in Queensland than in Victoria? Please explain! ……someone……anyone……..?

      • Marjorie Miller  

        Concession stamps 60cents in Brisbane.

    • The concession stamps are 60c each. I still send letters and cards. Around 4 a week. So these stamps only last 12 and half weeks. For the rest of the year I’m up for the increased costs.

    • It is 60c everywhere. But you can only use. The special stamps which actually have no denomination on them. You cannot use an old 60c stamp

  3. Thank you for that information. Probably the only one that will affect me is the increased postage. I was hoping that my husbands medication might make it onto the PBS. No such luck. I live in hope.

  4. I wonder…for those who take the medication (most of the listed are not drugs) mentioned, ask your Dr for scripts for them when you get scripts for your other medication. Just a thought.

    • asprin has always been available over the counter for the same price even if you had a script. No big deal!

    • Getting a script will not make any difference as the government has removed them from the PBS listing. Therefore you will have to pay whatever your chemist charges ; script or no script.

    • Making it harder to reach your limit for scripts,,,,, in England medication is FREE once you turn 60

    • Sandra Venselaar I know that. Some medications are more expensive over the counter than with a script for seniors. My Dr writes me a script for over the counter eye drops because they are cheaper with a script.

  5. That’s a good way to start the day knowing l won’t be seeing next Christmas .l need a few of the medications on the list the main one being a blood thinner which without it my blood will clot then goodbye world .When do they begin handing out the Cyanide pills for so many like me ?

    • cathy  


  6. Absolute disgrace this government. Hang your head in shame as the lot of you are no bloody good only in it for yourselves.

  7. Doreen the government wants you to work or die, so I guess the cyanide pills will be coming but they will want you to pay for them , no freebies in this world

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