Queenslanders warned over long COVID-19 recovery
A staggering 617,000 desperate Queenslanders have ripped about $9.1 billion from their superannuation accounts to survive as an expert warns the nation to prepare for a sluggish economic recovery.
New figures have revealed Queenslanders have made up 25 per cent of approved applicants under the government's early access to superannuation scheme, which was introduced in response to COVID-19.
The scheme, which allows people who have lost hours or employment to access up to $10,000 from their super, has raised fears from some experts that young Queenslanders could be worse off in retirement.
Griffith University Business School Lecturer Di Johnson said many Queenslanders would have "completely wiped out their super balances", with young people likely to suffer the largest losses.
"The impact could range from zero impact to a huge impact - you could be looking at losing around $150,000 in retirement," she said.
"I can completely see how young people would be wanting to put a roof over their head and living a life over 40 years from now instead of being concerned about retirement."
However, Professor Johnson said a withdrawal as small as $2000 could leave a 25-year old $40,000 worse off by 65.
Queensland's 617,000 applications is second only to 738,000 from New South Wales and ahead of Victoria's 557,000.
Nationally, $36.4bn in superannuation had been accessed as of January 31 - with $7638 the average payment.
Professor Johnson said Queensland's casual workforce in the tourism and hospitality industries was likely to blame for the state's high number of people accessing their superannuation - which she believes shows the nation is facing a long road back to a pre-COVID economy.
"While the investment market appears to have moved into recovery fairly well around the world, the global and domestic economy is still going to have a bumpy ride through a long recession recovery."
Sole trader Laura McCulloch, 25 - owner of Brisbane fashion label ZALie - decided against accessing her superannuation due to concerns about the long-term effects.
Her decision came despite sales in ZALie, which creates handmade festival outfits and casual clothing, plunging by about 80 per cent during COVID-19.
"It was scary waking up every morning not knowing what was going to happen," she said.
"Revenue dried up and we really didn't know what was around the corner."
Prior to COVID-19 Ms McCulloch had hired an extra worker, started selling in the United States and was preparing to expand into a new warehouse.
The pandemic saw staff cut and the expansion plans put on hold, with Ms McCulloch shifting to create lingerie and casual clothing.
"It didn't quite fill the gap but it allowed us to keep selling," she said.
"It was a quick shift to ensure we could survive."
Now the young label founder has launched a new range of clothing and is optimistic the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the return of large events will push the business back into growth.
Originally published as 'Wiped out': Acts of desperation hit super balances