Industry super has launched a social media blitz attacking proposals to ditch an increase in the superannuation rate floated by Morrison government backbenchers and in a review of the retirement savings system.
The campaign includes the claim that, if the changes being considered go ahead, “you might have to sell your family home to fund your retirement”, as well as an attack on politicians who “already get more super than you” but want to “cut your super by $1,500 each year”.
Most federal politicians receive super of 15.4% of their wages, compared with the 9.5% enjoyed by most Australian workers.
The peak body representing the sector, Industry Super Australia, expects its campaign, which launched on Thursday, will reach up to 1 million Australians through ads on Facebook and other social media platforms.
It is the first major negative campaign from the industry sector, which is made up of funds jointly run by employers and unions, since 2017 when it put to air a controversial TV commercial comparing the role of banks in super to foxes in a henhouse.
“Our members expect us to protect their financial interests and warn them about changes that will leave them worse off at retirement and that’s exactly what this campaign will do,” said ISA’s chief executive, Bernie Dean.
The campaign will target people who are near retirement, who ISA claims are most at risk of being forced to sell their homes if a legislated increase to super is abandoned, and under-35s, many of whom drew up to $20,000 from their retirement savings under emergency rules brought in by the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, during the coronavirus crisis.
It will run alongside an existing TV ad campaign that touts the benefits of planned increases to superannuation.
Employer contributions to superannuation are legislated to rise to 10% from 1 July, and to 12% by 1 July 2025.
But backbench Liberals used the coronavirus crisis last year to increase pressure on the minister for superannuation, Jane Hume, not to increase the super guarantee rate, and in November the government used the release of a wide-ranging review of the retirement savings system to pave the way towards scrapping the rise.
The retirement income review also floated the idea that people could help pay for their retirement by borrowing money against the family home through a reverse mortgage.
Hume endorsed reverse mortgages for retirees in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review.
Dean said it was “time for the government to leave people’s super alone”.
“Some federal politicians want the prime minister to break his election promise and cut the super rate,” he said. If they get their way, millions of Australians would be forced to work longer or retire with less.
“Some politicians think it is fine to cut super and then tell older Australians that they should sell the family home to fund a reasonable standard of living at retirement – or tell younger Australians they must sacrifice their retirement savings to buy a home.”
He drew a parallel between the debate about superannuation and the Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson’s successful campaign before the last election against Labor’s proposal to stop investors receiving cash refunds of franking credits.
“The franking credits issue has demonstrated how suspicious Australians are of policies that will cut their retirement savings, especially coming from politicians who are on a rolled-gold taxpayer funded retirement scheme,” he said.