Using super is no housing solution: industry

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Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

Allowing young people to tap into their superannuation to raise a housing deposit would not only have a “devastating” effect on their retirement nest eggs, it would just push up already red-hot house prices further, according to an industry expert.

Industry Super Australia’s Matthew Linden disagreed with suggestions the federal government will consider allowing young people to divert super contributions into a special savings account, which they will have to match dollar for dollar from other savings.

“First home buyers with that extra money in their hands is just going to bid up prices, so it is not going to make houses more affordable,” Mr Linden told Sky News.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also slammed the idea, saying young people in their 20s don’t have a lot of super in their accounts.

“There isn’t this mythical pot of gold waiting there,” he said in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Michael Sukkar, the minister assisting Treasurer Scott Morrison to put together a housing affordability package for the May 9 budget, said the government was looking at ways to help people raise a deposit but wouldn’t say whether this included allowing young buyers to tap into their superannuation.

Mr Morrison told a conference on Monday it is now taking eight years to save for a housing deposit in Sydney and six years for those in Melbourne.

Mr Sukkar said if potential buyers have a target of $50,000 for a deposit in Sydney, by the time they get to the eighth year the deposit required is substantially more.

“We are going to be pretty keen to examine measures that can bridge that gap and allow first home buyers to get into the market as soon as possible; otherwise the goal posts keep shifting,” Mr Sukkar told Sky News on Tuesday.

Derryn Hinch, a key crossbench senator, said using super was “crazy” and would push more people on to the pension, which would inevitably cost taxpayers.

He believed many young people had unrealistic expectations when it came to buying property.

“Owning your own home is not an Australian right, it’s a dream and everyone wants to do it,” he told ABC radio, adding they’re not necessarily going to get a two-car garage at 22 years old.

But he did favour making it easier for older people to downsize their homes by ensuring the move didn’t affect their eligibility for the pension, to improve housing affordability.

Mr Morrison didn’t touch on allowing would-be home buyers to tap their super accounts in his speech, but he did raise concerns that retirees were using their super lump sum to pay off their outstanding mortgage.

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