The New Year brings with it a raft of changes to welfare recipients. From January 1st the School Kids Bonus will be means tested. The $422 for primary and $842 for secondary students will now be dependent on household income. Families earning over $100,000 will no longer be eligible. The Palmer United Party agreed to the means testing of School Kids Bonus in return for axing the mining tax.

Other changes include the tightening of provisions for Disability Support Pensions for those travelling overseas. Applicants will now have to be assessed by government-appoved doctors. However, those who meet the criteria now face having their payments capped at four weeks a year, regardless of how many overseas trips they take. The previous arrangement allowed for six weeks of overseas payments.

Australian passports will cost $6 more for adults, $2.50 more for children (up to age 18) and $3 for seniors (over 75).

Applications for partner visas (allowing for foreign-born partners of Australian residents to live here) have attracted a brutal 50 per cent increase.

Jobseekers must now attend their appointments, with their employment service provider, or risk being cut from the welfare program. Excuses for missing appointments will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Invalid excuses will see welfare recipients cut from the program. They may reapply, however they still face 90 days without income support as their application is assessed.

The wait-for-the-dole will not begin as yet, as the Senate is still obstructing the bill. However, it seems the government is resolute in pushing the six month pause of welfare payments, and will find a way to get the measures through Senate.

Also, just to thank seniors for paying a lifetime of taxes, the government has decided to include superannuation pension accounts in the means test for Commonwealth seniors Health Care Cards.

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