PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 25 MAY 2020
SUBJECTS: Young people and early superannuation access; $60 billion costing error; JobKeeper.
STEPHEN JONES MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: The embarrassment for the Government in the last 48 hours has been the massive JobKeeper bungle, but the greatest tragedy for Australia has been the revelation that Australians have had to drain 13.2 billion dollars from their retirement savings because there was insufficient support coming from the Government. If you look at the statistics, it's young Australians who paid the biggest price. Over half of all of the applications under this new scheme have come from people under the age of 30. Four hundred and fifty thousand young Australians who have probably drained their superannuation account and the reason they've done it is because the Government didn't put enough support in place and didn't deliver that support early enough. So whether it's small businesses accessing their super to pay their staff or to keep their lights on, or its young renters having to access the super to pay the rent or to meet their bills in their obligations, this is another indictment of the Government’s failure to put enough support in place and to put that support in place soon enough to deliver the sorts of support that Australians need. Superannuation is supposed to be our system of preparing us for retirement, ensuring that we relieve the burden on future taxpayers to save for retirement. What this means is we're robbing from future generations. Australians have had to pay for their own stimulus. 13.2 billion dollars is more than the Government has delivered on JobKeeper and the seven hundred and fifty dollar stimulus payments put together. What's quite clear is that Australians are paying for stimulus themselves from their own savings account. A couple of days ago the Government said a hundred and thirty billion dollars was enough to stimulate the economy. Well, it's now revealed that that number is shrunk by 60 billion dollars. Australians are having to do the hard work by raiding their own retirement savings because this government can't get it right.
JOURNALIST: Is there any correlation in the numbers between casual workers or temporary visa holders who had to dip into their superannuation and those that missed out on the JobKeeper payments, or are you seeking that data to see what the numbers stack up as?
JONES: On the data that's been released to date, it's quite clear that young people, who have been the shock absorbers as the economy has ground to a halt, they're the casuals, they're the people working in hospitality and retail, they're the people who have most likely lost their jobs first and they're the people most likely to be excluded from the Government's JobKeeper payment. They're the ones who are accessing their superannuation in greater numbers and most likely they have drained their entire account. And somebody who accesses, if you're a 20 year old who accesses $20,000 from your superannuation account this year, it is going to cost you close to a hundred thousand dollars in retirement. Now, if you're a payday lender charging those sorts of interests, you'd be run out of town. But this is a scheme that the Government has set up and is encouraging people to do exactly that.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that the Treasury’s figures, in terms of the trajectory unemployment is correct, given what we've found about JobKeeper? Are you confident that ten percent is an accurate figure when it comes to unemployment?
JONES: Well, I wouldn't back any of the Treasury or any of the Government modelling at the moment. But we're quite clear on is that unemployment is going to remain higher for quite some time. Ten percent, perhaps in excess of ten percent. The Reserve Bank Governor was quite clear in his forward estimates that unemployment is going to remain high for quite some time to come. So if we know this, why is the Government planning to cut off JobKeeper at the end of September? Where is the certainty for all of those businesses, particularly, the businesses are still have their doors closed because of government restrictions, where is the certainty for those businesses? It's just not fair. The Government has been complacent. It's asking Australians to dip into their own savings because it won't do enough itself.
JOURNALIST: What should the Government do about that sixty billion dollar under-spend? What should they do with that money, should it spent or should it be saved?
JONES: We've said to the Government that they can spend the same amount of money but they can spend it better, they can spend it smarter. For some time we've been saying it doesn't make sense that you've got somebody who's working a few days a week getting a pay increase out of JobKeeper, but the casuals, many of whom have been accessing their superannuation because there's insufficient support for them elsewhere, don't get anything out of JobKeeper. It's not fair that some people are getting a pay increase of other people are being left behind. So we've called on the Government to do it better, do it smarter. This is a good idea, but appallingly implemented.