The Federal Opposition has criticised the Government’s policy encouraging children to open superannuation accounts, launched during the last Federal election with much fanfare, as “an absolute dud” following the poor take-up of the initiative.
A labor survey reveals the number of child superannuation accounts stands at 550 as at December 2003 - a far cry from Prime Minister John Howard’s prediction that close to 500,000 were likely to be opened under the scheme, according to Labor spokesman on Retirement Incomes, Senator Nick Sherry.
“This measure is an absolute dud. Howard forecast 470,000 and just over 550 have been opened. At this rate it will take 910 years for Howard’s promise to be met,” Sherry says.
According to Sherry, Howard stressed at the time that children’s super was the “centrepiece” of his party’s superannuation policy saying the package “trail blazes particularly in the area of superannuation for children” and teaches children “the wonders of compound interest”.
Sherry however believes Howard either deliberately misled the Australian public or seriously misjudged the interest children and their parents would take in the “wonders of compound interest” - drawing on Howard’s own words.
The initiative has been in operation for more than 18 months since commencing on July 1, 2002.
Senator Sherry demanded the Government release figures on the take up rate, stressing to date the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan refuses to provide specific details.
“The Government is embarrassed and is hiding the take up figures. If it was a success Howard would release the figures in a flash,” Sherry says.
Last year Seantor Coonan defended the policy in saying “there is obviously a very good underlying policy rationale for it. It is good policy and I will be doing everything I can to talk about it”.