NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has slammed Anthony Albanese’s criticism of the Liberals’ signature Kids Future Fund as “out of touch”.
The Premier’s blast at the Prime Minister comes just a week before New South Wales goes to the polls and with Labor leader Chris Minns warning One Nation could end up in de facto control of the state.
The Prime Minister, who has been campaigning heavily alongside Mr Minns, said the superannuation-style fund for the state’s children would create a greater divide between rich and poor.
Mr Perrottet, who has previously been complimentary about working with Mr Albanese on national cabinet issues, lashed out on Saturday saying “he is absolutely wrong – and that is the Labor way”.
“There is no greater investment that we can make than in our children’s future,” he told reporters in the marginal western Sydney seat of Penrith held by former deputy premier Stuart Ayres.
“For the Prime Minister to come out yesterday and say that he’s against, like NSW Labor, setting up a future fund account for our children shows how out of touch he is with the challenges that families are facing today.
“That’s why we can’t risk … a Labor government in our state,” Mr Perrottet said.
Under a Coalition government, every child aged 10 and under would have access to a fund with a starting investment of $400.
The Kids Future Fund would allow parents to make contributions to an account with the government matching payments up to $400, and could see funds grow for some up to $49,000.
The policy, which would cost $850 million over four years, has been criticised for leaving poorer families behind.
Schools become a political battleground
Mr Albanese said on Friday, “it’s certainly not a progressive policy … it just reinforces inequality rather than addressing what is needed”.
Meanwhile, new figures from the Department of Education show the number of demountables used as classrooms spiked to 5093 in April last year, which Labor has seized on as a demonstration of the government’s underfunding of public schools.
“The number of demountable classrooms is 30 per cent higher than when the Coalition won office in 2011,” said the NSW Teachers Federation’s president Angelos Gavrielatos, who revealed the figures obtained via a freedom of information request.
The electorates with the highest numbers of demountables were all in Sydney: Riverstone (235), Mr Perrottet’s seat of Epping (178), Castle Hill (136) and Kellyville (134).
“The government has had 12 years to fix schools in NSW but there’s not the classrooms and there’s not the teachers. Why would the people of this state expect the next four years to be any different?,” Mr Minns told reporters on Saturday.
In his bid to win majority government, Mr Minns also urged voters to stay away from minor parties particularly One Nation, led by former federal Labor leader Mark Latham.
One Nation on the rise
Some polls are suggesting they could have up to five MPs in parliament.
“There’s a real risk that Mark Latham and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation could control the upper house,” he said.
“Labor has made a decision in a limited number of seats to support parties and candidates who have got the best chance of blocking that majority.”
He also announced on Saturday nearly $18 million to incentivise students to learn a community language on weekends.
A $100 rebate is on offer for parents whose children pass their end-of-year exams and achieve an 85 per cent attendance record throughout the year in the language classes.
Away from the focus on education, the premier announced a $25 million boost to building boat ramps and jetties statewide, aimed at fishers and families.
With one week to go until polls open, some 4000 early voting centres have opened and will remain in operation through to 24 March, except for Sunday 19 March.
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