Issue 4 | 1 June 2012 View original format
Month in summary
Since the release of the Issues Paper on 1 May the team has been busy consulting with stakeholders across Australia—in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney. ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher gave a presentation about the Age Barriers Inquiry to the Diversity Council of Australia and also attended the COTA National Policy meeting in Canberra. There will be further consultations in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart over the next couple of weeks.
Since our last e-news, Part-time ALRC Commissioner and Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, has published a couple of articles in the general media relating to the Age Barriers Inquiry:
- Beard gone all grey? It’s still your right to go to work – The Punch
- Removing the grey areas of age discrimination – The Drum Opinion (ABC)
Reminder – submissions due 14 June
We’d like to remind everyone who has not yet completed their submission to the Grey Areas Issues Paper, that the closing date—14 June—is fast approaching!
- Read or download the Issues Paper >>
- Make an online submission >>
- View public submissions received so far >>
A particular reminder to people who have started submissions using the online form. We can see that a few of you have begun answering the questions, and saved the form, perhaps intending to complete it at a later time. Please make sure that you complete the form and use the “submit” button on the final page, so that your submissions can be given full consideration.
Subscribers are probably aware that the Australian Government Budget for 2012-13 was handed down on 8 May. Some of the changes will impact on areas covered by the Grey Areas Issues Paper, such as superannuation, social security, tax and migration. Below we have outlined factors that may be of interest to stakeholders.
The 2012–13 Budget has introduced a change to the concessional contributions cap for persons aged 50 years and over.
There are ‘caps’ on the superannuation contributions that persons can make each year before they must pay excess tax. The cap on concessional contributions is currently $25,000 per year. Since 2007–8, a higher concessional contributions cap has applied to superannuation contributions made by persons aged 50 years and over. This was a transitional measure scheduled to expire on 1 July 2012. In the 2010–11 Budget, the Australian Government announced that, from 1 July 2012, a higher concessional contributions cap of $50,000 per year will continue for persons aged 50 years and over with superannuation balances below $500,000. In the Issues Paper, at Question 14, the ALRC asked whether the higher concessional contributions cap for persons aged 50 years and over affected mature age participation in the workforce.
In the 2012–13 Budget, the Australian Government announced that it will defer the 2010–11 Budget measure for two years. This means that the general concessional contributions cap of $25,000 will apply to all persons 50 years and over until 2014–15. The ALRC is interested in comments as to whether this measure, and its deferral, may affect mature age participation in the workforce.
The 2012–13 Budget has announced a Mature Age Participation – Job Seeker Assistance Program to begin on 1 January 2013. This Program will provide eligible job seekers aged 55 years and over with intensive job preparation assistance. The Budget also announced changes to the ‘Experience+’ suite of pilot programs (referred to in pars 170-171 of the Issues Paper). The Experience+ Career Advice Service has been extended beyond its original end date of 30 June 2014 to 30 June 2016.
The Government will not proceed with the ‘Experience+ Training’, ‘On‑the‑Job Support’ and ‘Job Transition Support’ programs. The training and support currently delivered by these programs will now be supported by the More Help for Mature Age Workers (MHMAW) program, which will be renamed as the ‘Investing in Experience — Skills Recognition and Training program’. The Government will broaden the eligibility of this program and make changes to the payment structure to help address current levels of unmet demand.
The new program will be expanded to include mature age workers from non-trade occupations across all sectors of the economy, such as child care and business. (See, Australian Government, Budget Paper No. 2, Budget Measures 2012-13, (2012), 225).
The 2012-13 Budget introduces changes to tax offsets, which will commence on 1 July 2012.
The Mature Age Worker Tax Offset will be phased out. It will be maintained only for persons who are 55 or older on 1 July 2012. This measure implements a recommendation of the Australia’s Future Tax System review. Additionally, as the tax-free threshold will be more than tripled, the Low Income Tax Offset will be reduced.
In the Issues Paper, the ALRC asked how tax offsets, including the Senior Australians Tax Offset, Pensioner Tax Offset, Low Income Tax Offset and the Mature Age Worker Tax Offset, might be improved to encourage mature-age workplace participation. It also asked what disincentives may be created should these offsets be removed, as recommended by the Australia’s Future Tax System Review (Question 8). The ALRC is also interested in stakeholder comment as to the effect of the above measures in relation to mature age participation in the workforce.
In the 2012–13 Budget there was a focus on measures designed to attract skilled migrants, particularly to regional and rural areas. In particular, the 2012-13 Migration Program planning levels were announced including an increase of 3,400 places as part of the Skill Stream level, with a ceiling set at 129,250 places. The Government’s aim in increasing these levels is to help fill skills shortages in parts of the Australian economy. (See media release: Targeted migration increase to fill skills gaps.) Additional funding has also been allocated to encourage more permanent employer-sponsored skilled migration.