Rest is chafing at the early super release scheme, saying policy uncertainty is preventing it from spending big on Australia’s recovery.
Rest has now paid out more than $1 billion to its members, but wants to play a larger role in Australia’s economic recovery – and says the government’s policy decisions are holding it back.
“As a major investor with $53 billion in funds under management, Rest is well placed to provide long-term capital investment into important community infrastructure and capital raisings that can generate returns for our members and support Australia’s economic recovery,” said Rest CEO Vicki Doyle. “However, in order to invest in infrastructure and raise capital for Australian companies, it’s critical super funds have stable policy settings.
“Uncertainty will constrain our ability to invest for the long-term on behalf our members.”
The early release super scheme has been controversial from the start, with superannuation minister Jane Hume accusing funds that claimed they could be impacted by the scheme of failing to manage risks properly and warning that super funds are not “sacred cows”.
“It’s important that a short-term approach to the current crisis does not create a longer-term crisis for Australia’s retirement savings,” Ms Doyle said. “If members’ super is regularly called upon to provide short-term fiscal support to the economy, it changes the way we invest on behalf of our members.
“We would need to consider shorter-term investment horizons and different asset allocations. With policy certainty, there is a greater opportunity for our members to benefit from investments that also support Australia’s economic development and recovery.”
Rest has so far processed an average of 8,5000 applications worth $60 million per business day. It was forced to temporarily halt the processing of claims in early May due to concerns a small number were fraudulent.
“While the scheme will continue for some time yet, the amount withdrawn so far is significantly below our forecasts and comfortably within our provisioning,” Ms Doyle said. “We are currently very well placed to pursue value in investment markets for our members and support Australia’s overall economic recovery.”
Australia’s industry funds have pledged to spend big on infrastructure to supercharge the economic recovery, with more than $28 billion earmarked for transport and energy overhauls.
“Our funds have been helping members through the tough times and we stand ready to help get them safely back to work and the economy growing again,” said Industry Super Australia chair Greg Combet. “We’ve got significant funds available and plans to provide capital to solid Australian businesses and bring forward large investments in major projects and essential infrastructure that will create new jobs and sustain many more.”
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