Senior minister Christopher Pyne has chastised his Coalition colleagues for publicly debating whether the government should allow first home buyers to raid their superannuation to help pay for a deposit.
Mr Pyne said those MPs seeking to “fiddle” with superannuation in the May budget risked destroying a retirement savings system that was the “envy of the world”.
Pyne’s criticism of colleagues
There’s dissent in the Coalition ranks over the idea for first homebuyers to access their super to get into the housing market.
His intervention follows that of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who on Wednesday said the proposal had gone “round and round” and referred commentators to his 2015 comment that it was a “thoroughly bad idea”.
“It’s a great pity that colleagues are running these debates publicly,” the Defence Industry Minister told ABC Radio.
“Whether they attach their name to them, which I think is much more respectable, or do so anonymously. The budget process should be managed behind closed doors and on budget night it should be revealed to the people.”
Mr Pyne said the Prime Minister’s comments had reaffirmed Coalition policy, “which is that there is no policy to allow superannuation to be used for housing”.
“Superannuation has a particular role. It is a retirement income. Our superannuation system is the envy of the world and those people who seek to fiddle with it are putting that at risk and there is no evidence to suggest that, if superannuation was able to be used for housing, that would somehow bring house prices down,” he said.
“There is evidence on the other side of the ledger which suggests that all that would happen, in fact, was that house prices would continue to go up and the person selling the house would simply take that person’s super and increase house prices.”
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, one of the most senior conservatives in the government, has also backed Mr Turnbull’s position.
“I think the PM has got it right. He’s referred back to his previous words on this to say that it’s not good policy and I agree with him,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.
“People have rightly explored options about what you can do around housing affordability. [We have] ruled out [changes to] negative gearing and now the PM has deal with this issue as well. So there are other ways that you can provide help but you don’t want to fuel the prices. You don’t want to create a situation that is worse than what we have got at the moment.”
Cabinet’s expenditure review committee – the so-called “razor gang” – will discuss a range of housing affordability measures on Thursday, including the superannuation proposal and winding back capital gains tax concessions.
Resources Minister Matthew Canavan, former prime minister Tony Abbott, Nationals MP George Christensen and several other MPs have expressed support for allowing young people to have early access to their superannuation, while others have dismissed the idea.
Some of Australia’s leading economists have also savaged the proposal, with Saul Eslake labelling it a “thoroughly stupid idea” and Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson warning it would just “be adding extra money into a market that’s already pretty heated”.