A controversial plan to allow domestic violence survivors fleeing abusive relationships to access thousands of dollars from their superannuation accounts is no longer federal government policy.
The measure was first floated in 2018 as part of a suite of proposals aimed at helping women during relationship breakdowns.
Women would have been allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 from their superannuation accounts under the plan, on “compassionate grounds”.
But domestic violence groups feared such a proposal could be rorted by abusive partners, who could force women to apply for early access to superannuation.
Last week, Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume said draft legislation to bring the measure into effect was not far off being released publicly.
This prompted significant criticism that victims of abuse should not have to fund their own efforts to escape dangerous situations.
Senator Hume said that if safeguards could not be put in place to allay concerns, it would be dumped.
In Senate estimates on Monday night, Minister for Women Marise Payne confirmed the government had dumped the policy after feedback from superannuation funds, legal groups and family violence experts.
“There was support for the measure from some, but also a number of stakeholders who raised concerns that the measure will disproportionately affect victims and survivors of domestic violence compared to perpetrators, and that it would be difficult to square the requirements of readier access to funds through early release of super with the sorts of appropriate protections from potential financial abuse and coercion,” Senator Payne said.
“Given that we can’t be sure that those applying for early release of superannuation might not be at increased risk of financial insecurity or abuse in doing so, then it’s not appropriate to work to pursue that.
“We absolutely had no intention in 2018, when the matter was raised and advanced, of worsening outcomes which we are committed to improving.”
Labor had led the charge in criticising the measures within Parliament, describing it as another way of entrenching disadvantage for women who already retire with significantly less in their superannuation accounts than men.