Super sector to collaborate to tackle housing affordability crisis

Alison Banney 23 March 2017

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Industry super heads agree they need to work together with the government to solve social issues.

Following recent public debate about whether the government should allow young Australians to access their superfund for a house deposit, the industry super sector has agreed to collaborate to tackle the issue, among others.

At the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds 2017 currently taking place on the Gold Coast, Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) board member Catherine Bolger said, “We as an industry need to continue to look forward to where we can collaborate to continue pushing forward together.”

Industry Super Holdings chair Garry Weaven said the recent hype surrounding the potential of using super for a deposit highlighted the need for the industry super sector to collectively tackle the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

“Housing is the biggest asset class we haven’t commoditised and we need to do it,” said Weaven.

Weaven also acknowledged that the government often raises the policy idea as a solution to the ongoing property affordability issue, however, it never sticks. “All the boffins - actuaries, economists, analysts - inevitability show that it would be crazy and it drops off the radar for a while.”

First State Super chief executive Michael Dwyer agreed that the industry should band together to work towards solving the issue, saying, “The political debate has been killed off for a time, but it's incumbent upon us as an industry to do something.”

“I have some sympathy for the idea of connecting members over something they care about. Plus, all the modelling shows that not owning the roof over your head in retirement is the biggest risk factor for living in poverty,” said Dwyer.

Industry Super Australia chief executive David Whiteley said he believed the industry super fund sector has the capacity to work with the government to provide part of the solution to affordable housing.

“The sector, as a whole with the government, needs to prioritise it. If we were to find a fix it would have to be some elegant and complex mechanism that could really help address housing affordability, not a crude mechanism like letting people use their super for a house deposit,” said Whiteley.

To learn more, read our breakdown of the proposed policy to allow Australians to dip into their super for a house deposit.

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