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Aussies tapped $38 billion of their super during pandemic



More than 2.6 million Australians drained their superannuation accounts at the height of the pandemic, with some spending the money on takeaway food, gambling and buying furniture.

A study released today showed that people during the health emergency accessed  $38 billion under the former Morrison government's early release stimulus program, reports the Brisbane Times.

Those people who used the scheme have deprived themselves of $120,000 in retirement savings, the study said.

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The then-treasurer Josh Frydenberg talked up the policy, saying it was "the people's money and this is the time they need it most".

Researchers from the Australian National University and George Washington University and Harvard University in the US looked at what people spent their super money on and the occupations of those who used the scheme.

They found the accounts of up to a quarter of applicants were emptied within days of the scheme's launch.

From those who accessed the early super scheme, 75 per cent withdrew the maximum $10,000 available to them.

Gambling was one of the biggest expenditures for the withdrawn money, with an average spend per person of $293.

Other spending included furniture and office equipment, supermarkets, restaurant or takeaway meals and at department stores.

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There was also a sharp split in jobs of those who accessed their superannuation early.

More than 40 per cent of people who worked as construction and mining labourers used the program.

Nearly 37 per cent of mobile plant operators – drivers of heavy equipment such as bulldozers – tapped their superannuation early.

Factory process workers were the next most likely at 35 per cent.

The researchers warned accessing and spending super money had a big impact on retirement nest eggs.

People who used the scheme slashed their super balance by an average of 51 per cent.

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