Vic Labor to fund $5b childcare changes

Labor has promised to extend preschool access to three-year-olds, if it wins government.
Labor has promised to extend preschool access to three-year-olds, if it wins government.

A re-elected Victorian Labor government would push ahead with a $5 billion plan for part-time kindergarten for three-year-olds with or without the help from Canberra.

Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement in Melbourne on Thursday alongside federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who similarly promised extra funding for pre-schools should he become prime minister.

"If Labor is re-elected on November 24 we will provide universal, three-year-old kinder right across our state," Mr Andrews said.

The program would start in 2022 with five-hours-per-week of kindergarten for three-year-olds, scaling up to 15-hours-per-week across the subsequent decade.

Should a federal plan be introduced, commonwealth spending will free-up some of the Victorian funds for other purposes, the premier added.

"Bill and I will be able to provide even more for our young kids because some of the money we've allocated to this task would be able to be invested elsewhere."

Under the Victorian plan a quarter of families will receive early learning for free and those on higher incomes will be subsidised by 65 per cent.

Mr Shorten said if federal Labor was in government it would help enable the states to make three- and four-year-olds get universal access to kindergarten.

"A good partnership between Dan Andrews and myself will take pressure off the family budget and even more importantly than that, just means that we're making sure the kids get the best out of their educational life," Mr Shorten said.

Victoria's Liberal-Nationals opposition leader Matthew Guy said he wants to see more information about the plan.

"We have seen plenty of pronouncements from the Labor Party on kinder before so I will just wait for the details rather than more promises from Daniel Andrews and Bill Shorten," he said.

Mr Guy said he'd release a "comprehensive plan" for early childhood education before the election.

In a statement, the state opposition said Labor's proposal fails to address a shortfall in services which exists in some Victorian suburbs, already denying some four-year-olds access to kindergarten.

Australian Associated Press