Labor will help cover the dental bills of three million pensioners as it kicks off the final stretch of the election campaign by targeting families and older voters.
In twin announcements on Sunday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged $2.4 billion for a new pensioner dental plan that will cover $1000 worth of dental care every two years, as well as a $4 billion increase to childcare subsidies.
Mr Shorten also revealed plans to raise the wages of early childhood educators by 20 per cent over the next eight years in a dramatic intervention into the sector.
The Labor leader said the average total wages of early childhood educators would grow by about $11,300 over the eight-year period.
This will be on top of any wage increases made by the Fair Work Commission or any other increases made by employers. Mr Shorten said the pay increase would cost $537 million for the first four years. The cost is expected to grow as the policy is fully implemented.
Childcare workers are some of the lowest paid in Australia and have been campaigning for years for better conditions. According to the childcare workers' union, United Voice, they can be paid as little as $22 an hour. The workforce is also about 96 per cent female.
"It speaks volumes for what we value as a nation, for the priority that we place on the betterment of our children and the respect we display to the people who teach them," Mr Shorten said.
He added that the female-dominated workforce had been "undervalued and underpaid for too long".
Labor tried to increase childcare worker pay at the end of the Gillard government in 2013, but the $300 million policy was wound back by former prime minister Tony Abbott. The Coalition described it as a "sham" and redirected the funds into staff training.
Under Labor's broader childcare package, families will also have their subsidies increased. Those on household incomes up to $174,000 will be about $1200 a year better off per year, per child, while those families earning up to $69,000 will save up to $2100 per year, per child.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised Labor's tax and spending plans in a speech on Sunday.
"Bill Shorten doesn't know the cost of anything - and I will tell you why - because he doesn't pay for it, you do," he said.
Labor has funded the $7 billion spending by amassing billions of dollars through proposed changes to negative gearing and franking credits - the latter of which has angered some seniors.
The opposition will look to regain their vote through the dental care package, extending the $1000 payment to 380,000 people who are not pensioners but hold a Commonwealth senior's healthcare card.
"It will not come out of your bank account. It will not go on your credit card. You will not have to delay treatment because you can't afford the care," Mr Shorten said. "It will be covered by your Medicare card."
Mr Shorten said one-in-two older Australians had gum disease.
"All of us know these things undermine your quality of life, your self-confidence, your basic dignity," he said. "If you cannot get your teeth fixed, you are deprived of the simple joys."
Shadow health minister Catherine King said the announcement was the next step in "Labor's vision of universal access to dental care in Australia".
Children are also eligible for the $1000 payment under the Child Dental Benefit Scheme, introduced by the former Labor government in 2012.
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