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Australia’s $1.4 trillion profit-to-member super sector has earmarked infrastructure, energy and affordable housing as three key areas where superannuation savings could be invested on a large scale to help drive Australia’s economic recovery from the Covid crisis.
A statement released by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) today outlines a range of investment opportunities that would contribute to growth, jobs and productivity. The statement has been sent to state governments, relevant department heads and the National Covid‐19 Coordination Commission.
AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck said there was enormous potential for super funds to invest in areas such as housing and energy, but regulatory reform was needed to enable funds to invest on a large scale and deliver competitive returns to their members.
In the area of affordable housing, Ms Scheerlinck said limited land availability and unfavourable tax implications had made it difficult for super funds to scale up their investment in housing.
“Super funds are acutely aware of the need to improve housing affordability for their members as they recognise that it is currently very difficult for Australians to enjoy a decent, financially secure retirement without owning a home.”
Ms Scheerlinck said large scale investment in housing was the appropriate way to address Australia’s affordable housing crisis.
“Barely a week goes by these days without one commentator or another suggesting that Australians should be allowed to tap into mandatory super savings to buy their first home.
“Aside from the negative impact this would have people’s retirement incomes, it does nothing to address the root cause of Australia’s housing affordability problem, which is lack of supply.
“Turning housing into an asset class that could provide institutional investors with a competitive return would not only be a watershed for housing affordability in this country, it would create jobs to assist the recovery while providing strong investment outcomes for the millions of Australians who invest through superannuation funds.”
In the area of energy, Ms Scheerlinck said funds had identified an opportunity to create jobs and reduce final energy demand through the large-scale green retrofitting of existing major building assets, particularly office buildings.
“Profit-to-member super funds are already significant investors in many of Australia’s major infrastructure and property assets and are well positioned to finance the green retrofitting of these assets,” she said.
Media enquiries: AIST Senior Media Manager, Janet de Silva 0448 000 499
29 July 2020