FAMILY TIES: Katrina and Flemming Nissen live in Clermont with their children Hunter and Helena.
FAMILY TIES: Katrina and Flemming Nissen live in Clermont with their children Hunter and Helena. Kelly Butterworth Emenisse

How the budget will affect Central Highlanders

Families

WE looked at an average Central Highlands family to see how the budget will affect them.

Katrina and Flemming Nissen live in Clermont with their two young children, Helena, 2.5, and Hunter, 5 months.

Flemming works in the mining industry and Katrina is a stay-at-home mum.

Family Tax Benefit

Katrina said lowering the threshold to $100,000 and ceasing payments when the youngest child turned six instead of 16, would greatly impact her family.

"I get $190 each fortnight from the Family Tax Benefit at the moment and that goes towards paying our bills, in particular we have allocated that to pay the car loan which is $180 each fortnight," she said.

"(Losing FTB B) would probably force me to look at going to some kind of part-time job from home."

Co-payments

WITH an added $5 co-payment per script at the chemist and a $7 Medicare co-payment, health is set to become more expensive.

"Honestly, the $7 co-payment is not going to make a huge difference, it's like a coffee a week," Katrina said. "Any added expense on prescriptions is a pain; I've just been diagnosed with an under-active thyroid, which means I'll be on medication for the rest of my life.

"If it applies to things like the (contraceptive) pill, it's going to affect everyone."

Fuel excise

UNDER the budget, the Federal Government hopes to raise $2.2 billion by 2018 by indexing the fuel excise against inflation.

Katrina said any rise in petrol prices would hit Central Highlanders hard.

"I'm using half a tank of fuel just to go get groceries in Emerald," she said.

 

Pensioners

AT 79 years old, Emerald pensioner Colin Smith is already doing his best to adjust his lifestyle to stretch the penny as far as possible.    He said the Federal budget was "attacking the vulnerable".    Among his biggest concerns were plans to link the aged care pension to inflation from September 2017, rather than a 27.7% share of the average total male weekly earnings.    The single aged care pension is $751.80 per fortnight, while couples' pension is $566.60.    "I am just doing the best with what I have," Mr Smith said.    "I only do low-cost activities, I grow my own vegetables, I use cold water to rinse things and I use a pressure cooker instead of the oven."    The fuel excise is also set to hit pensioners in the hip pocket, especially in rural and regional areas.    "I don't drive much," Mr Smith said. "Keeping up with car insurance is very expensive."    When asked about the retirement age being lifted to 70 by 2035, Mr Smith said "that is very poorly thought out".  "It will be difficult for people doing very physical jobs," he said.    Mr Smith will eagerly await the Senate's reaction.      University students   STUDENTS looking to further their education may have to pick up an extra holiday job or two.    School leavers putting in their applications to gain a university degree will also gain more debt and less time to pay it, after an announcement in Tuesday's Budget.    Under changes to higher education, more students will be able to receive financial help, but they will have to pay more for their degrees.   Universities will be able to put a figure on their own tuition fees from 2016, which will put a higher figure on certain costs.     And in July 2016, students undertaking degrees will have to pay back their loans sooner, with repayments starting when they earn more than $50,638 a year.    Marist College Emerald Year 12 student Theresa Brennan said the Budget outcomes were definitely on her mind.  "With the rates increasing, you don't have that security to pay it back over a longer period of time," Theresa said.   "The increased costs... people from rural areas have it hard enough as it is."   Theresa was born and bred in Emerald and grew up on a property.   She said she would definitely have a gap year before studying, so she could gain some experience and save some money.    "I want to have that financial security, and have a break too... a year off from schooling before I start again would be nice," Theresa said.    Theresa said she was hoping to study nursing, but anything in the medical field was of interest.    "But it's a worry because medicine, for example, people just won't be able to afford the repayments, with a HECS debt and low numbers of jobs, people will really have to think about their options before they apply," she said.    During her break from high school, before she heads to university, Theresa said she hoped to get work on a property.           


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