Some 22,000 Australians made a pre-Christmas dip into their superannuation savings to take out $159 million over a week.
In April last year, the Morrison government introduced a scheme allowing people to withdraw two lump sum payments of $10,000 from their retirement savings to offset financial difficulties stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
In the week to December 20, 15,000 initial applications were made while a further 7000 were repeat requests, The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said.
Since the early release scheme was introduced, there have been 3.4 million initial applications and 1.4 million repeats, with a total of $35.9 billion withdrawn.
Ten super funds accounted for $23.6 billion of the early release payments.
Payments averaged $7643, taking about three days to process.
Labor has called for an independent inquiry into the program, arguing it has become a “sloppy tick-and-flick” scheme undermining Australia’s retirement savings pool.