Women will have to choose between ‘a roof over their heads’ or ‘gambling their retirement’ under the Coalition’s plans to let people access their super early to buy a house.
Women in Super chief executive officer Jo Kowalczyk slammed the policy, arguing that women, who have lower average super balances than men, would be worse off.
“This will supercharge the homelessness crisis that single women are facing in the country,” Kowalczyk said.
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“Under this policy, older women will be further locked out of housing markets, while younger women are pressured to gamble their retirement security for secure housing.”
The policy, launched at the eleventh hour of the six-week federal election campaign, would allow first home buyers to invest up to 40 per cent of their superannuation to help them purchase their first home.
Capped at $500,000, critics of the policy have argued the scheme would ratchet up house prices and lump young people with huge mortgages.
Kowalczyk said the financial position of women had not been well considered in the design of this scheme.
“Women already have lower, on average, super balances than men,” Kowalczyk said.
“And as more women than men withdrew the maximum out of their super under the COVID Early Release scheme, women will have less access to this scheme.”
Financial expert Mel Browne also argued that men would have a much greater opportunity to draw down on super to buy a house due to the stark superannuation imbalance between the two genders.
“Not to mention we as a country have hundreds of billions of dollars of debt, which means, I’m guessing there’s going to be no age pension by the time those same young people who grabbed their house deposit from their super retire,” Browne wrote on instagram.
“Which means superannuation will be more important than ever before.”
Kowalczyk urged the Government to conduct gender analysis of any policy changes to mitigate the negative impact on women.
Why women have less super
Kowalczyk said super was basically predicated on the assumption that people would spend 40 years working continuously in the workforce.
“That's just not the reality for most women,” Kowalczyk said.
Women are also more likely to be in part-time work to remain the primary carer for children or elderly parents, and more likely to take an extended career break to care for children.
Women are also predominantly in low-income industries, which also leads to lower super balances.