Allowing young Australians to access their super to fund home purchases is tantamount to crossing a quarter-horse with a donkey to deliver a not very pretty mule.
We are now just weeks out from the Federal Budget and it is to be hoped that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has prevailed in ensuring that his Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has not given life to allowing young Australians to access their superannuation to help fund home purchases.
The notion of allowing people to access their superannuation to fund home purchases rates as one of the hardiest of hardy annuals – every year or so certain figures in the property development and real estate industries dust off roughly the same old plan and retail it to politicians who are either too electorally desperate or too intellectually limited to see the obvious shortcomings.
Looked at objectively, allowing young Australians to access their superannuation to gain entry to an already overheated housing market represents giving birth to a mule – a cross between a horse and a donkey.
The Australian superannuation system, if not a thoroughbred, is a bloody good stock horse that is getting the job done. The Australian housing market is proving to be a bilious jackass. Putting the two together would create a legislative mule and the Treasurer of the day would thereafter be known as a mule-breeder.
There was a very good reason why only a very short time ago both the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Coalition Liberal and National parties were broadly agreed on the need to define an “objective” for superannuation and to minimise legislative tinkering with the superannuation system. Both sides of the Parliament recognised the need for certainty.
However, desperation combined with lack of imagination can cloud political and economic judgements and the more than $3 trillion in Australian superannuation assets has always been a temptation which needs to be quarantined from those who cannot see beyond the expedient quick fix.
The purpose of superannuation has always been to provide for a comfortable retirement while relieving pressure on the Age Pension.
Successive Intergenerational Reports have reinforced the importance of this purpose based on an ageing population putting increasing demands on the social welfare system.
Then, too, the Government needs to recognise that Australia’s housing market has become significantly over-heated in the major capital cities and that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has identified shortcomings in the mortgage lending regime.
This, when combined with the latest research from Deloitte Access Economics that there is a real danger of rising interest rates forcing increasing numbers of Australian mortgage-holders into financial stress, should be reinforcing the need to quarantine superannuation.
Based on this, it is to be hoped wiser heads will prevail in the Cabinet room.
The damage which will be created by seeking to deliver a legislative mortgage/super mule will be upwards of 40 years in the making and those young Australians with insufficient retirement incomes in 2057 will rightly be able to consider those responsible to be jackasses.