Part of Treasury’s consultation into the early release of superannuation looks at whether victims of crime should be able to access a perpetrator’s superannuation for compensation.
DBA Lawyers special counsel Bryce Figot said one of the potential issues for victims of crime with this is that it has mostly been framed in the consultation paper as the victim being able to gain direct access to the perpetrator’s superannuation.
“If the [government] does it that way, then I think there would be a big disincentive for the victim to pursue this,” said Mr Figot.
“If someone has committed some awful crime against you, you probably want nothing to do with them, let alone pursuing them in some system for accessing their superannuation.”
A better option, Mr Figot explained, would be to enable state and territory compensation schemes to access a perpetrator’s superannuation to recover costs on behalf of the victim.
“The paper does point out that you do have various tribunals all around the country that will pay compensation to you and you don't necessarily have to deal with the perpetrator,” he said.
If victims were able to receive the money from a state compensation scheme that had access to the perpetrator’s super, Mr Figot said this would be a “far more feasible and practical”.
While there would certainly be an attraction in allowing victims of crime to access a perpetrator’s superannuation, he said, the government will also need to consider if they want criminals reaching retirement with nothing.
“If you take away all of their money, what do you think a violent criminal would do to get more money?” he noted.
“However, it's also very unfair that someone could be a criminal and commit some very violent crimes and have a large chunk of superannuation that their victims aren’t able to access.”