Tim Wilson was fighting a rearguard action when he tried to recruit CBA boss Matt Comyn to his Home First, Super Second campaign.
The standing committee on economics is usually a mixed bag, with both sides of politics attempting to co-opt the opinions of whichever poor executive has been unlucky enough to front it. But Thursday was a particularly bad showing, with Tim Wilson failing to garner anything but passing support from Matt Comyn for his controversial campaign to use superannuation for housing.
Mr Wilson pondered a series of hypotheticals aloud, including whether CBA would provide finance to superannuation funds to invest in residential or commercial property – “We do not at this stage” – and whether it had any bans on providing super funds with a retail product – “It’s not a business we’re looking to develop”, Mr Comyn said, though CBA wouldn’t be against “taking a preliminary meeting”.
However, Mr Comyn did concede that CBA would at least consider developing a product that would allow Australians to use their superannuation for a housing deposit – an exchange that made it onto Mr Wilson’s Twitter account – if legislative changes were made (an exchange that didn’t). Given senator Jane Hume’s lukewarm response to the idea of super for housing, it’s unlikely we’ll see those any time soon.
“If superannuation funds currently invest hundreds of millions of Australian’s superannuation savings in purchasing commercial or residential property – and certainly on the residential side – that would have a present effect in increasing house prices?” Mr Wilson asked.
“If that’s what they were doing, yes,” Mr Comyn responded.
Meanwhile, political heavyweight Jason Falinski tried to draw Mr Comyn on his thoughts around the controversy surrounding Alan Kohler, who has spearheaded the ABC’s coverage of the superannuation debate while moonlighting as a columnist for industry fund The New Daily.
“Do you pay any journalists?” Mr Falinski asked, earning a response in the negative. “Do you own a newspaper that you publish?...Do you think it would be appropriate for you to be paying a finance journalist that appears on television and reports on your company?”
“That’s not a priority for us,” Mr Comyn said.
For his part, Mr Comyn was diplomatic about whether he was “sick” of attending the committee.
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