NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will not use his signature kids future fund if he still leads government after March 25 because he already has long-term savings accounts for his children.
The premier, who has called on other state premiers to follow his lead, insists the policy would provide generational financial security, but says he would not draw on the scheme himself.
“I won’t be taking it up. I already have accounts for my kids, every one of them. All seven,” he said on Thursday.
Under the plan announced at the Liberal Party’s formal campaign launch on Sunday, the Coalition government would pay parents $400 for every child aged 10 and under, and match their future contributions with up to $400 every year until they turn 18. The maximum parents can contribute to an account is $1000 per child per year.
For parents receiving the Commonwealth Family Tax Benefit that may not be able to add to a fund, the government’s plan will automatically contribute $200 a year to a child’s account.
Five of the premier’s children would have been entitled to a collective $2000 a year from the state government with matched annual co-contributions of $400 per child, until his eldest eligible child turned 18.
If the Coalition is returned to government at the election next Saturday, parents will have the remainder of the year to register children aged 10 and under for a future fund account.
From 2024, every newborn child in NSW will have access to the scheme, which the government estimates will translate to 100,000 babies a year. NSW grandparents will also be able to contribute to a fund, though the yearly family contribution for each child would still be capped at $1000.
The policy, which is expected to cost $850 million over four years, is designed to lock in savings that can go towards education or a home deposit. Young people will be able to access the money from the age of 18.
While Labor and the Greens have criticised the plan as a measure that will further widen the gap between upper and lower socio-economic groups, Perrottet said the policy would lock in future opportunities for families by encouraging long-term saving.
“I want people to think about saving. I want people to think about their children’s future,” he said.
“If you look at our account and our co-contribution, just $8 a week put aside can end up with your child [in a] significant investment in their future. That’s what this is all about. I want our children to have the very best, and I say to other premiers, follow suit.”
Perrottet has claimed the fund could grow to $28,000 by the time the child turns 18, while additional contributions from family could increase it to nearly $49,000.
In a leader’s debate hosted by the and Nineon Wednesday, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said the eligibility of the scheme was unclear, and argued the money would be better spent on the education system.
“The most important legacy we can leave to our future generations of young Australians is education,” he said.
Perrottet visited not-for-profit Anglicare while on the campaign trail in Parramatta on Thursday, where he announced $10 million to provide more financial counselling to families across the state.
The commitment doubles the government’s current investment in financial counselling over the next financial year, with a projection to offer services to a further 10,000 to 15,000 families.
Anglicare financial counsellor Beth Schwalbe said financial literacy was more important than ever for families struggling to make ends meet during a soaring cost of living crisis.
Schwalbe said Anglicare was assisting more people seeking financial counselling than during the worst days of the COVID pandemic.
“We found with the government supports and various other measures that were put in place … that people were actually often able to get through themselves. But now those supports have gone and people are finding rents have gone up, mortgages have gone up, price of groceries have gone up.”
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