Centrelink: Social Security in Australia

I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog about life in Australia for well over three years and I’ve (almost) never mentioned Centrelink. It’s a name anyone moving to Australia should know about and we had to talk to them ourselves within about one month of our arrival in Australia.

Why?

Mrs BobinOz took a very young Elizabeth along to the nearest kindergarten to sign her on when she was just three years old.

“What’s your Centrelink number?” She was asked.

Well, she didn’t have one, none of us did. No Centrelink number = no kindergarten.

So, without too much fuss and with one relatively simple telephone call, we were given the required number and preschool was back on the agenda.

I’m not going to go too deeply into the services or payments they offer because, obviously, it’s a huge and ever-changing subject. But here’s what I think I know for now:

The Australian Government has The Department of Human Services.

The Department of Human Services runs:

  • Medicare – who look after the health of Australians.
  • Centrelink – who deliver payments to retirees, the unemployed and make other assistance payments to Australians.
  • Child Support – provides emotional and financial support to separated parents and assists with child well-being.
  • CRS Australia – helps those with a hearing impairment to a better quality of life.

The Department of Human Services take care of many other things, but that will do for now.

I only mention all of these, because they are probably names you will need to know, particularly Centrelink and Medicare; I believe almost all Australians will have some interaction with these two at some level.

I was reminded of all these services when I made a big mistake whilst watching the TV the other night. I didn’t grab the remote to hit fast forward quick enough and ended up being subjected to an advert…

How nice is that? The Australian Government has decided to give many Australian families additional payments into their bank account without having to apply or even fill in a single form. It’s called the Household Assistance Package.

Australian comedian Shaun Micallef thought the Household Assistance Package was a case of the government giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Unfortunately the amusing YouTube video I did have for you about this has since been removed. Nevermind, let’s talk about…

The Carbon Tax in Australia

From next month, Australia’s top 500 “emitters” will be charged $23 AUD per tonne of carbon that they emit. Well, somebody has to save the world, why shouldn’t it be us Australians? Who else will help?

  • China is planning one for 2015, but as with everything that comes from that country, it’ll be really cheap! $1.55 US per tonne.
  • United States have no nationwide carbon tax, but a few individual states have put a price on CO2.
  • Canada are the same, no federal tax but some individual provinces have taxed carbon.
  • India have put a tax on coal equivalent of $1.07 US per tonne.
  • Costa Rica put a price on carbon back in 1997 equivalent to 3.5% of the market value of fossil fuels.

Europe.

Europe are still discussing it on a Europewide basis, but it does appear that some European countries have already introduced some kind of tax on carbon.

  • Finland introduced the world’s first carbon tax in 1990;
  • The Netherlands introduced a carbon tax later that same year;
  • Sweden priced coal in 1991;
  • Norway priced carbon in the same year, but their emissions increased 43% by 2008;
  • Denmark introduced a carbon tax in 2002;
  • Switzerland introduced a carbon incentive tax in 2009;
  • The UK taxed petrol products in 1993;

I was actually quite surprised by how many countries have some kind of carbon tax in place, although I’m not really sure how much of a carbon tax each really has. For example, the UK taxing petrol products? Haven’t they done that since time began?

Anyway, my source for all that information was SBS, and their article about carbon taxes around the world.

I bought petrol for $1.27 a litre the other day, that is a recent all-time low price. If I remember correctly, when I arrived in 2007 it was $1.18 per litre and I know it has been as high as $1.59 since I’ve been here.

It’ll be interesting to see where price of petrol goes after the carbon tax is introduced next week.

Petrol

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