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Rest pays out $1bn, calls for policy certainty

Having now paid out more than $1 billion to members, Rest is calling on the government to implement stable super policy settings, warning uncertainty constrains funds' ability to invest for the long-term.

As of this morning, the $53 billion superannuation fund has paid out $1.08 billion to 153,694 members as part of the early release of super scheme.

In light of this, Rest chief executive Vicki Doyle has highlighted the important role major investors, such as super funds, will be required to play in Australia's recovery and the issues they will face in doing so if dipping into our retirement savings to support the economy becomes a regular occurrence.

"It's important that a short-term approach to the current crisis does not create a long-term crisis for Australia's retirement savings. If members' super is regularly called upon to provide short-term fiscal support to the economy, it changes the way we invest on behalf of our members," Doyle said.

"We would need to consider shorter-term investment horizons and different asset allocations."

With policy certainty, there is a greater opportunity for members to benefit from investments that also support Australia's economic development and recovery, she added.

Doyle said the fund recognised five years ago the need for long-term debt to fund major infrastructure in Australia.

The fund currently has about $8 billion invested in Australian infrastructure assets and holds long-term investments in the agricultural sector too, she said.

In addition to airports, renewable energy and property, Doyle said: "We have $350 million invested in 99,000 hectares of rain-fed cropping farms in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA, and are looking to commit a further $500 million to expand our agriculture portfolio during the next five years."

Doyle said the amount withdrawn by Rest members remains significantly below the fund's own estimates and comfortably within its provisioning.

The fund is typically receiving up to 4000 applications a day, but this is now trending downward, she added.

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