AustralianSuper has received "85,000 requests from members seeking early release of their retirement savings," the Melbourne-based industry superannuation fund said Tuesday.
The initial tally — a week after Australians could begin applying for an initial A$10,000 drawdown of their retirement savings to help them through the COVID-19 crisis — represents over A$650 million ($413.2 million) in savings, a news release said.
AustralianSuper said it had already distributed "over A$319 million to almost 40,000 members so far." The super fund reported A$180 billion in retirement assets at the start of February — before a spreading coronavirus battered markets globally.
Shawn Blackmore, the fund's group executive for service and advice, in the news release said AustralianSuper wants to "help members who are in immediate financial need under the Federal Government's Early Access to superannuation program" but emphasized that withdrawals would come at a cost.
"For example, a 25-year old who withdraws A$20,000 could see a reduction of their retirement balance by A$64,000," Mr. Blackmore said.
AustralianSuper Chair Don Russell, at a conference in Sydney at the end of March, predicted AustralianSuper could ultimately get as many as 300,000 requests under the early access program.
A Melbourne-based spokesman for the fund said it is too early to conclude that the number of total withdrawals would come in below that 300,000 estimate.