Senator FIFIELD (Victoria) (Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (12:14 PM) -I rise to speak on the Tax Laws Amendment (Medicare Levy and Medicare Levy Surcharge) Bill 2010. This bill increases the low-income thresholds in line with CPI to ensure that low-income earners continue to be exempt from the Medicare levy and Medicare levy surcharge. The low-income thresholds for the levy and surcharge have been increased according to CPI in all years since 1996-97 except 1998-99, when the CPI was a negative figure. The Medicare levy is not payable by low-income families with incomes below the Medicare levy low-income threshold.
In addition there is a low-income threshold for the Medicare levy surcharge that applies to the low-income earner in a couple or a family. The low-income earner does not have to pay the surcharge if their income is below the low-income threshold. However, their partner with an income above the threshold must pay the surcharge if they do not have private health insurance. This bill maintains the intention of the low-income thresholds by ensuring that individuals and families on low incomes remain exempt from the Medicare levy and Medicare levy surcharge according to changes in the CPI. The amendments apply to the 2009-10 year of income and later income years. The coalition supports the bill.