APRA put under pressure to consider early access scheme

29 May 2020

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) was given less than one day to consider the early access to super scheme.  

In a session with the Senate Select Committee on how it had handled the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, APRA deputy chair Helen Rowell said it was given a “high level verbal outline” of the scheme on 18 March.  

The Government said it wanted a response to this on the same day and APRA said there were internal discussions but that it was unable to consult with any other organisations such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). 

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It said it considered factors such as the impact on the super system, levels of possible payments and if this volume of payments would be able to be managed by funds. 

An updated parameter was then sent to APRA “a few days later” which reflected the scheme as we know it. 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), in the same Senate session, said it was given a “heads up” about the scheme from the Treasury a few days before it went live. 

The early access to super scheme allowed people to access up to $10,000 from their superannuation until 30 June, 2020, and a further $10,000 in the next financial year.  

Since the scheme came into force, APRA had been monitoring the level of funds accessed and how quickly payments were being made. This was being balanced with supporting members who were not accessing their super. 

“We are focused on management of the system and balancing that with asset management and the needs of members not accessing their super such as liquidity measures, asset allocation and rebalancing as well as how funds are meeting payments.”  

APRA said there had initially been a “high level” of applications to the early release scheme but that they had “steadied out” to around 200,000 per week.  

The number of members accessing super had been higher than expected but the amount of dollars drawn down was “in line with initial assumptions”. It said it was monitoring this closely and expected an uptick towards the end of the scheme. 

Rowell said: “Applications started out at a high level but has now steadied out to 200,000 per week.  

“The levels of access payments we are seeing are manageable and we expect it to continue to be so.  

“We expect an uptick towards the end of the scheme and then a second uptick at the start of the second tranche.” 

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The early access super payments still look to be less than the $27 Billion forecast by the Government. Given the billions in fresh cash the super funds are drowning in each month (from the 85% of Aussies still employed), the problem is? Given the billions removed by the ATO from "lost super" accounts over the past few years, if this program helps fund members engage with their super funds, this has been an excellent outcome all around.

Policy on the run without due process or thought.
A person could withdraw $10,000 in June and another $10,000 in July, emptying their super account to zero, losing their default or choice insurance cover and spend the money on alcohol, drugs, prostitution, bitcoin, or online gambling.
Has that been a good outcome for the individual or the economy ?...........quite obviously not.

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