Here is what's changing in Canberra from July 1, 2018
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Here is what's changing in Canberra from July 1, 2018

The beginning of a new financial year on July 1 also marks plenty of changes and price increases for many Canberrans.

Here are some of the changes that are coming into effect.

Rates on the rise, no rebate reprieve

Rates for home and unit owners are set to go up.

Rates for home and unit owners are set to go up.

Photo: Rob Homer

Starting Sunday, the average rate for homeowners is set to rise by $172 to $2474, while unit rates will increase by $135 on average to $1472 for the 2018-19 financial year.

While those in Gungahlin will see the largest increase in rates at 9 per cent for houses and 12 per cent for units, Weston Creek property owners will see the smallest, 5 per cent for houses and 9 per cent for units.

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From July 1, Canberra unit owners will also lose the one-off $100 rebate offered by the ACT government, after rate calculations were changed last year.

It will cost more for parking

Canberrans will pay more for parking near the city's icons.

Canberrans will pay more for parking near the city's icons.

Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Those wanting to park for a day in the Parliamentary Triangle will have to pay more, with parking rates going up from $12 to $14.

The short-stay rate will also go up by 40 cents an hour to $2.90 an hour.

Electricity to soar

Canberrans face a nearly 15 per cent increase in their electricity bills from July this year.

Canberrans face a nearly 15 per cent increase in their electricity bills from July this year.

Photo: Virginia Star

Parking rates aren't the only things going up at the start of the new financial year, with ACT electricity customers set to pay an additional $299 a year - about $5.73 a week - from July.

The price increase comes after a decision from the ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission last month, which will see electricity costs increase by 14.29 per cent for households in the 2018-19 financial year.

Electricity prices previously rose 17 per cent during the September quarter in 2017.

ActewAGL have said they will pass on the price rise to customers, while offering a one-year discount of 25 per cent for some companies.

Land tax

The ACT government will expand its land tax to as many as 2500 vacant rental properties in Canberra. A surcharge of 0.75 per cent on the average unimproved value of residential properties in the ACT will also be added to at least 189 properties owned by foreign investors.

The expanded tax is set to rake in a further $10 million to the government, increasing the tax's revenue by an estimated 45 per cent to 2020-21.

The changes will not affect owner-occupiers in Canberra who do not pay land tax, which is currently only paid on residential rental properties or land owned by a corporation or held in a trust.

Nice work, if you can get it

Martin Parkinson, secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Martin Parkinson, secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Photo: Rohan Thomson

The salaries for departmental secretaries and other agency heads in the public service will rise by 2 per cent from Sunday.

The pay packet increase comes following a Remuneration Tribunal decision released last month, coinciding with warnings of sluggish national wage growth.

Australia's top public servant, Prime Minister and Cabinet department boss Martin Parkinson's salary will rise to $896,400.

Public service bosses salaries will also rise by up to $17,500.

Sexual abuse laws

New laws will come into effect from July 1 requiring religious organisations to report allegations, offences or convictions relating to children to the ACT Ombudsman and launch an investigation within 30 days.

The legislation, which was supported by all three parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly, will apply to activities, facilities, programs or services run by religious organisations.

While the laws also extend to churches and confessionals, that clause won't come into effect until March 31, 2019.

The ACT legislation introduction coincides with the start of the National Office for Child Safety, which will begin on July 1, as well as a national redress scheme.

Lift off for space agency

Dr Megan Clark, Chief of the Australian Space Agency.

Dr Megan Clark, Chief of the Australian Space Agency.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Australian Space Agency will begin its work in Canberra from the start of the month.

The new agency will be working out of Civic for the next six months, helmed by former CSIRO head Megan Clark, until a permanent home can be found.

While South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory have expressed an interest in being the final home for the agency, Dr Clark said Canberra is the most logical location.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has also said Canberra is the "natural home" of the agency.

National changes

Some families are set to lose their weekend penalty rates on Sunday but might get extra money back in their pocket from childcare changes the next day.

And anyone buying a product from overseas will have to pay GST on it if it’s worth less than $1000.

The changes are among a raft of new budget measures and policies to come into effect around the country on Sunday. Here's all the detail.

Taxes

  • The 32.5 per cent income tax rate cuts in at $90,000, up from $87,000.
  • A new low and middle-income tax offset worth up to $530, but not paid tax returns are processed after the 2018-19 financial year.
  • Lower corporate tax rate of 27.5 per cent extended to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million. The rate will reduce to 25 per cent in 2026-27. Larger companies still pay 30 per cent.
  • GST applied to foreign purchases below $1000 for the first time.
  • Purchasers of newly-constructed residential properties or new subdivisions must remit GST directly to tax office as part of settlement.

Child care

  • Existing subsidies combined into a single means- and activity-tested payment where both parents must be working, studying, volunteering or searching for work at least eight hours a fortnight to be eligible for the subsidies.
  • Households with a total annual income under $186,958 will no longer face a cap on the amount of rebate paid by to them each year.
  • For those earning more than this, the annual cap will lift from $7500 to just over $10,000 per child.

Workplace

  • New hourly minimum wage of $18.93, up from $18.29.
  • Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for workers in fast-food, retail, hospitality and pharmacy will be cut by 10 to 15 per cent.

Welfare

  • A fortnightly withholding amount of $28.28 from the Family Tax B Benefit for those parents who don't immunise their school-age children.

Transport

  • Federal Interstate Registration Scheme closed to new entrants and re- registrations by existing heavy vehicle operators.

Communications

  • Telco consumers can expect a better complaints-handling experience under a new industry standard and record-keeping rules by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
  • The new rules oblige telcos to have a written complaints-handling process that meets minimum standards; acknowledge all consumer complaints within two working days; use their best efforts to resolve complaints on first contact, and otherwise, resolve complaints within 15 working days.

- with AAP

Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.