Communications Minister and Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull slammed Treasurer Joe Hockey’s suggestion that young Australians could be given early access to their superannuation to help them by their first house.

“My own view is that would be a thoroughly bad idea,” Turnbull said during an address at the Brisbane Club.

“It’s not what the superannuation system is designed to achieve.  Housing affordability is a big issue in Australia but as we demonstrated over many studies over many years, this is a supply side problem.”

Speaking about difficulties to pass some of the measures in the 2014/15 budget, he said that the more fundamental problem was that “the public was not persuaded tough measures were necessary in the first place.  We- and I include myself and every member of the government in this criticism- did not do a good enough job in explaining the scale of fiscal problem the nation faces, and the urgency of taking corrective action,” he said, and added that “there was a deeply felt sense in much of the community that our proposed budget measures were unfair to people on lower incomes when taken as a whole.”

Hockey responded to Turnbull’s comments on housing and superannuation at the ABC Lateline program: ” we wanted a debate about this. There is a difference of views, of course, there is.” He added.

He acknowledged that there are ” lots of arguments both ways” and noted that some argue that buyers get capital gain from home ownership and that “capital gain may well be far greater than anything they get on their return in existing superannuation funds.”