“There’s a lot of research showing the best way to financial security in retirement is owning your own home,” Mr Falinski said.
“For people earning under $50,000 a year, putting [super] into owning their own home is a more effective route to security in retirement.”
However, he said it was a “marginal” idea and the big improvements for housing would come from reform of the planning system, particularly in NSW, to ensure more supply.
In response to a post from Senator Bragg on Instagram, where the Liberal backbencher said home ownership was “more important” than super, Liberal member for Canning in Western Australia Andrew Hastie wrote “agree”. Mr Hastie said he was supportive of Senator Bragg’s proposal and measures to improve home ownership, but declined to comment further on the super system.
Liberal member for Wentworth in NSW Dave Sharma also said the idea was “worth exploring” further, along with more products considered to allow people to access the wealth in their home and scrutiny on taxes, to help reduce the number of people on the pension.
“The truth is most Australians’ wealth is concentrated in their first home and most peoples’ wealth strategy and retirement strategy involves their home,” Mr Sharma said.
Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said backbenchers should be “free to explore new and innovative ways” to support the government’s goal of increasing home ownership, adding the current scheme has helped over 10,000 Australians save a collective $128 million.
Queensland senator Gerard Rennick said that while he was “not against the idea” he was concerned it could end up keeping house prices at high levels, a concern also voiced by Labor and the superannuation industry.
Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean warned changes to the scheme to allow access to super to buy housing would “just drive up prices and push ownership further away” as it gave people more money to bid on an asset.
“Increasing the supply of affordable housing is a much more responsible and effective option.
“Funds are having constructive discussions with social housing providers and government about how it can become a more attractive asset class for institutional investors,” he said. Super funds are set to endorse proposals for cheap land and tax incentives to help make long-term returns stack up for retirement accounts.
Labor assistant treasury spokesman Stephen Jones said accessing superannuation would not help make housing more affordable.
“This isn’t a zero-sum game. Australians shouldn’t have to choose between home ownership and a decent retirement,” he said.
Another major change to super supported by a growing number of Coalition backbenchers is to delay or cancel to the increase in the superannuation guarantee that is legislated to rise from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent by 2025.
Liberal member for Bennelong in NSW John Alexander has also recommended a set of sweeping changes, including to buy a home within a fund and offset mortgages against retirement balances. He also wants reductions to negative gearing to help kerb price pressure from investors.
The government’s retirement income review is due to hand down its findings on July 24.
Jennifer Duke is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.