Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Stephen Jones has applauded the superannuation sector for the role it played in alleviating financial and economic hardship brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years.
“Our superannuation sector has played a remarkable role. It’s hard to think how we would have got through particularly that first wave of the pandemic had we not had at that point in time $2.6 trillion in assets under management,” Jones acknowledged at a Pritchitt Bland Communications industry function in Sydney last week.
However, while he commended the initiative to allow legal early access to super, he was critical as to how the scheme was implemented.
“It was poorly administered. The concept wasn’t wrong, we weren’t the only country in the world to do it, [but it was] very poorly administered,” he said.
“I can’t make judgments on how Australians use their [superannuation] money once it’s released, but it’s beyond controversy it was all used for the intention that [was intended] and there will be a long-term cost to that.”
Despite this criticism, he recognised the measure injected $30 billion of liquidity into the economy, which was a welcome fillip for the retail sector.
Further, he pointed out some retirement savings accessed early had helped small businesses survive their financial struggles over the past 24 months.
“I spoke to lots of hairdressers actually who were paying their staff from their superannuation payments, which was another remarkable act of communitarian response to a crisis,” he said.
According to Jones, the invaluable role superannuation played in the economy over the most challenging periods of the pandemic was not confined to the early release measure.
“The capacity of our super sector to provide liquidity to prop up some of the biggest companies on the stock market [is] an untold story,” he said.
To this end, superannuation had provided some much-needed economic stability through some very uncertain times, he noted.