Rush for early access to super causes ATO website to crash

Australians desperately trying to prise open their super as part of the government’s stimulus response for the coronavirus crisis has caused the Australia Taxation Office’s website to crash.

Within an hour into the new financial year which triggered the next round to grab another $10,000 from their own retirement as part of the early access scheme, the website froze due to high demand.

By 10am today, those seeking online services remained locked out.

“We’re currently experiencing a high volume of traffic,” is currently displayed on the site.

“We understand significant numbers of people need to access our online services.

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“We are proactively managing our online traffic so that systems continue to be available.

“We apologise for the inconvenience.”

The Federal Government made retirement funds available to those who have had their income plunged into doubt as a result of the coronavirus-induced shutdown and ensuing economic crisis.

Under the controversial scheme, those impacted by the outbreak were able to grab $10,000 from their super last financial year and another $10,000 from today until September 24, 2020.

The initiative was rushed into existence to assist the tens of thousands of Australians who had their income plunged into doubt as the lockdown created economic chaos and mass job losses.

But data released over the last few months indicate this emergency dip into vital retirement savings has been spent on online gambling, alcohol and takeaway food, not the essential household items it was intended for.

Real-time banking activity from Alpha Beta and Illion shows many of those who took advantage of the access increased spending on lifestyle items.

A sample of 13,000 people revealed 64 per cent of the scheme was spent on discretionary items such as clothing, furniture, restaurant food, gambling and alcohol.

“That tells us that much of this money was used for lifestyle reasons rather than necessity reasons,” Alpha Beta director and economist Andrew Charlton told the ABC last month.

“Superannuation is there for retirement, not for crises.”

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