More than 450,000 Australians have been approved to access their super early, draining billions from the system in just three days

Money is flowing out of Australian super accounts. (Photo by Omer Urer, Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
  • The government has issued an update on much demand it has seen for its COVID-19 economic support measures on Thursday.
  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that 456,000 Australians had been approved since Monday to withdraw on average around $8,300 from their retirement savings.
  • Meanwhile 6.8 million people had received the JobSeeker Allowance, and 275,000 businesses have formally applied for the Jobkeeper wage subsidy.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australians have not been shy about getting their hands on their retirement savings early.

With the federal government having forced super funds to open up their coffers in light of the COVID-19 downturn, Australians have rushed to get their share.

“The Australian Tax Office has approved 456,000 applications, totalling $3.8 billion,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Thursday. “Those applications are now with the superannuation funds for their payment over the next five days.”

It reflects enormous early demand with those first applications flooding in within just three days since opening on Monday.

Interestingly, those applicants are largely opting towards the upper withdrawal limit of $10,000, averaging a little over $8,300 a head. Expecting 1.6 million to eventually take up the offer, it could see more than $13 billion flow out of superannuation funds in the coming weeks.

It also speaks to the economic strain the coronavirus has put on Australians, with many of those 456,000 applicants presumably in need of that money to make ends meet. With funds and economists having warned of the long-term negative impact of spending retirement savings, clearly many have fallen between the cracks of the government’s support packages.

Those too have been taken up in staggering numbers.

The Treasurer confirmed that 900,000 businesses have expressed interest in the Jobkeeper payment, of which 275,000 have formally applied with half of those having been sole traders.

With regard to the JobSeeker Allowance paid to the unemployed, the demand has been equally overwhelming with 1.4 million expected to soon be out of work.

“In terms of the $750 cash payments, which are going to pensioners, to carers, to people on the disability support pension, on family tax benefits – those payments have now gone to 6.8 million people totalling $5.1 billion,” Frydenberg said, with the government.

In order to keep up with those applications flooding into both the ATO and Services Australia, the federal government has hired 5,000 new staff and said they had helped approve more than 587,000 applications, with a view to process up to 50,000 per day.

At least there are some jobs being created somewhere.