Rudd takes election message to toddlers

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told a group of young children at a childcare centre that he wants to build Australia's future.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd never misses an opportunity to spruik Labor values, even if it is to an audience of toddlers.

"We've got to build things up, haven't we?" he told a group of young children playing with Lego pieces at a childcare centre in Sydney's southeast on Monday.

"We're making sure we are building and building for our future."

Mr Rudd was campaigning in the marginal Labor seat of Kingsford Smith, held by former Midnight Oil frontman and retiring MP Peter Garrett on a margin of 5.2 per cent.

After reading Alfie to the children and helping them put together a jigsaw puzzle, Mr Rudd met a couple and their two-year-old daughter, hand-picked by Labor to chat with the prime minister.

"Ni hao!" Mr Rudd, who's fluent in Mandarin, said to the young family.

The couple are originally from China and claim Labor's paid parental leave scheme - offering a mum 18 weeks leave paid at the national minimum wage - had convinced them to stay in Australia after the birth of their first child.

Mr Rudd was happy to talk up Labor's parental leave scheme against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's $5.5 billion "unaffordable and unfair" scheme offering six months leave on a wage replacement basis.

Labor's hopes of retaining Kingsford Smith rest on right faction senator Matt Thistlethwaite who was campaigning alongside the prime minister on Monday.

Annette Thornton, 72 from Eastlakes, said she was a Labor supporter "through and through" and hoped the party would retain the seat at the upcoming election.

Ms Thornton told Senator Thistlethwaite she would pray for him to succeed on polling day.

Mr Rudd later went to central Sydney to pledge $52 million for planning work to deliver high speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne by 2035.

Once completed, a rail journey between the two capitals would take just under three hours.

The prime minister used the initiative to again attack Mr Abbott's paid parental leave scheme.

"Put that into context - what is more necessary for the nation's future?" Mr Rudd asked reporters.

"A high speed rail network, which links these vital cities along Australia's east coast, or an unaffordable, unfair paid parental leave scheme?"

A previous feasibility study put the cost of building the network from Brisbane to Melbourne at about $120 billion over more than 40 years.

Mr Rudd will to spend Tuesday morning in Sydney, where he will give a speech to The Lowy Institute on global economic and security challenged.

Source AAP

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