Australia

Childcare worker pay rise 'first': Shorten

Labor's plan to publicly fund pay increases for early education workers has been described as a bribe by the coalition minister in charge of the sector.

The federal education minister has described Labor's plans to boost the wages of childcare workers as a "pure and utter bribe" ahead of the election.

The Labor opposition is proposing taxpayer-funded pay increases for early educators, boosting their wages by more than $11,000 over eight years.

"It is an incredibly unusual arrangement," Education Minister Dan Tehan told ABC Radio National on Monday.

"They are bribing the union to go and stand at childcare centres and tell people to vote for Labor."

Roughly 96 per cent of childcare workers are women, earning an average of $45,000.

Labor says its proposal is the only way to boost their wages without increasing costs for parents.

"We do think it is a good thing to ensure they can be paid a bit more ... to reflect the increased skills they are being asked to perform," Labor senator Penny Wong said.

"And also to reflect the fact they are structurally one of the groups who is relatively underpaid in this country."

Labor has also committed an extra $4 billion in child care subsidies for families earning up to $174,000.

Child care would be free for families on combined incomes of less than $69,000.

The Australian Council of Social Service is rapt with the proposed funding injection.

"Every child has a right to high-quality early childhood education and care, and finances should not be a barrier," ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.

"Australia has for too long lagged behind in its investment in the early years for Australia's children."

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