Scott Morrison has made housing policies for young and old a central part of his address at the Liberal Party’s official campaign launch, days before Australians go to polling booths.
A re-elected coalition government will allow first home buyers to tap up to 40 per cent or $50,000 from their superannuation to buy a home.
“Superannuation is there to help Australians in their retirement,” the prime minister told the party faithful in Brisbane on Sunday, a gathering attended by former Liberal leaders John Howard and Tony Abbott.
“The evidence shows that the best thing we can do to help Australians achieve financial security in their retirement is to help them own their own home.”
Housing Industry Association managing director Graham Wolfe welcomed the decision, saying it is an initiative the association has championed.
But the Financial Services Council is concerned the proposal weakens the sole purpose of super, which is to provide higher standards of living in retirement.
“The FSC recognises there is a correlation between renting in retirement and poverty amongst older Australians, but Australians should not have to choose between a home and their retirement savings,” CEO Blake Briggs said.
Labor’s housing spokesman Jason Clare agreed people shouldn’t have to make this choice.
“What we saw today was the last desperate act of a dying government,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“Every heavy hitter in the Liberal party of the last generation that have looked at this issue have knocked it on the head – whether it is John Howard, Peter Costello, Malcolm Turnbull or Mathias Cormann.”
Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating also weighed in, saying in a statement it amounts to “no more than another frontal assault by the Liberal Party on the superannuation system”.
Also from July 1, Mr Morrison pledged that Australians over the age of 55 will be able to downsize their property and invest up to $300,000 in their superannuation fund outside of the existing contribution caps, from the proceeds of a sale.
Pensioners who downsize will also be given greater flexibility by exempting the proceeds of the sale of the property from the assets test for longer.
Currently this benefit is available to Australians over the age of 65 and making this change will see up to 1.3 million people become eligible to access it.
Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said it had been a successful policy since 2017.
Labor senator Murray Watt said his party would support the initiative.
“But the reality is that just one announcement from this government after nearly a decade in office is not going to fix the housing crisis we see in Australia,” he told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese was also in Brisbane addressing supporters, where he announced the opposition’s $1 billion election commitment for Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry.
Labor’s fund aims to build the nation’s industrial base and create new opportunities in key manufacturing industries such as transport, defence, food processing, medical science, and renewables.
Mr Albanese also told ABC’s Insiders program he would work quickly to establish a Voice to Parliament for Australia’s Indigenous people should he become prime minister after Saturday’s poll.
Mr Albanese said Mr Morrison had promised to act on this during the last term of parliament.
“He doesn’t want a Voice to Parliament. The only voice Scott Morrison ever wants to hear is his own,” he said.
He also scoffed at Mr Morrison’s promise that he was about to change his ways, in attempt to lure remaining undecided voters.
But Liberal deputy Josh Frydenberg – seen as a future leader – still believes Mr Morrison is the right man for the job.
Asked on Insiders whether the coalition would be faring better under his leadership, the treasurer said: “No.”
“Scott Morrison is the right person to lead both the government and the country.”