Victorian Labor says it will spend over $1 billion to help rebuild schools and reintroduce tech schools, if re-elected in November.
Labor has launched an election bid to win the hearts of Victorian parents, with a $1.3 billion splash on rebuilding schools and education training.
If elected on November 29, the party has pledged to reopen tech colleges in regional areas and rebuild schools, kindergartens and TAFEs.
“From the first day of kinder to the last day of training, I want every square inch of our education system to help our kids build for their career and begin their lives,” Mr Andrews told the party faithful in the marginal seat of Geelong on Sunday.
Labor would also provide school uniforms to struggling parents, invest in breakfast clubs at disadvantaged schools, and set up a fund to ensure children can attend excursions.
Mr Andrews accused the Liberals of abandoning schools but said a Labor government would rebuild them.
A total of $510 million would go towards upgrading government schools while $120 million would go on rebuilding needy Catholic and independent schools.
A further $50 million would be spent upgrading kindergartens.
“They can’t get a first-rate education in a second-rate classroom,” Mr Andrews said.
Labor will also set up a $320 million rescue fund to help TAFEs in strife, reopen closed campuses and upgrade buildings.
Mr Andrews accused the government of cuts leading the TAFE system to the brink of collapse.
“Gough Whitlam built our TAFE system and I refuse to sit back and watch it die,” he said. “The funds will start flowing on day one of an Andrews Labor government.”
“This is an emergency and we simply cannot wait.”
The party also pledged to reintroduce tech schools, with $125 million to create 10 regional schools including at Geelong.
The tech schools would focus on local industries, which would help design courses with TAFEs and universities, for students in years seven to 12.
Students would spend a set time getting a technical education, but still stay enrolled at their local high school.
Mr Andrews said Labor’s plan would to get the state “back to work”, put an end to Premier Denis Napthine’s war on paramedics and get the health system working again.
On a personal note, he revealed his father had been diagnosed with an incurable, rare cancer in the weeks before his 64th birthday in July, adding that cutting the health budget has cost lives.
“That’s why I will never cut hospital funding,” he said.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was on hand to help mark the launch with former premiers John Brumby, Steve Bracks, Joan Kirner and John Cain.
Victorian treasurer Michael O’Brien said the coalition would have more to say about education before the election and questioned how Labor would pay for its plan.
“Victorians know Mr Andrews will not say how he will pay for his promises because he can’t pay for them,” Mr O’Brien said.
The coalition’s promises will be submitted to the Department of Treasury and Finance for costing.
Mr O’Brien said Labor should do the same.
He said Mr Andrews has no vision for Victoria, no plan to grow the economy and no idea how to pay for Labor’s promises.
LABOR’S POLL PLEDGE ON EDUCATION, TRAINING
* $510 million to upgrade government schools
* $120 million to upgrade Catholic and independent schools
* $125 million to establish 10 regional tech schools
* $320 million for TAFEs
* $50 million to upgrade kindergartens
* $150 million for camps, sports and excursions fund
* $15.5 million partnership with State Schools Relief to provide school uniforms, shoes, to struggling families and free eye tests and glasses for kids at 250 disadvantaged schools
* $13.5 million for 500 breakfast clubs at disadvantaged schools, serving up 25,000 meals a day.