Superannuation industry groups – including Industry Super Australia (ISA) and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) – have warned the federal government to prevent Australia’s $2trn retirement savings system from addressing the nation’s housing affordability crisis.

Earlier this week, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the federal government was likely to address housing affordability in the May budget. He also said there have been several suggestions about how to deliver the best outcome.

Anthony Roberts, NSW minister for planning and housing, recently mentioned the idea of unlocking superannuation for first-home deposits. However, Industry Super Australia believes the idea is risky as it could reduce retirement savings and inflate house prices while doing nothing to address supply.

“In the housing affordability debate, the focus should be on land release, regulation and tax subsidies that fuel investment in existing property rather than new buildings,” said Stephen Anthony, chief economist at ISA. “Allowing first-home buyers early access to their super will set back a retirement income system that is still struggling to fully deliver.”

Anthony said the proposal was inconsistent with the federal government’s objective of super being able to provide income in retirement to substitute or supplement the age pension.

AIST has also warned against using superannuation to tackle Australia’s housing affordability crisis.

“The superannuation industry shares concerns about housing affordability for the young but superannuation is not the silver bullet,” Tom Garcia, AIST’s chief executive officer, said. “Superannuation is about saving for retirement. It's not a savings pool to be used for any other purpose, as the government has made clear in its own proposed objective for super.”