$650 million cash splurge for Rudd to kick off campaign

LABOUR kicked off its 2013 federal election campaign with a $650 million dollar cash splash aimed at winning over busy parents and appeasing the car manufacturing sector.

Day one of the five-week campaign began with Labor unveiling plans for a $450 million fund to expand out of hours care for school children and a $200 million boost to the local car manufacturing industry.

"This is a bread and butter cost-of-living measure," said Mr Rudd of the funding boost which would help schools to either establish a new out of hours care program or extend and improve their existing one.

"A kid's development doesn't just begin at 9am and end at 3pm," Mr Rudd said. "The government will give parents a further helping hand."

Under the program some 500 schools will receive funding for more flexible opening hours both before and after school and during school holidays; more places in areas where parents need access to out of school hours care, and; new activities and programs for children, such as sport, music lessons and homework clubs.

The government's first move of the day came dressed in garbs of a $200m boost in funding for the local car manufacturing industry.

There was no word on how the money, which came from the contingency reserves, would be spent but given that the announcement comes on the back of tax slugs which will see the industry lose $1.8 billion, it was hard to raise a smile from either the manufacturers or the motoring associations.

In addition to the $200m the government has also mandated Commonwealth fleets would comprise 100% Australian-made cars where it was possible to do so and has committed to working with state, territory and local governments to ensure they equip their fleets in similar fashion.

"I will continue my discussions with industry as to how this additional funding can best support sales growth," said Minister for Industry, Kim Carr.

"But this is just one part of the package and if the 100% Australian-made passenger vehicle fleet target the Australia Government has committed to today was adopted at all levels of government, sales of Australian-made vehicles could increase by over 18,000 units per year. This represents an 8% increase on 2012 production volumes."

But Opposition leader Tony Abbott, visiting marginal seats in Queensland, scoffed at the announcement saying it was akin to "putting a band-aid over a bullet hole".

"They just throw money around like confetti," Mr Abbott said. "I want to say to the Australian people, I have more respect for your money."

Opening his party's fight at a meatworks  in the seat of Blair in Ipswich, Mr Abbott's first salvo in this campaign was contentious but hardly  thunderous as he chose to reiterate the Coalition's oft proffered  promise to scrap the carbon tax policy should they win government.

Mr Abbott said that he wanted the Australian people to know he was "fair dinkum" about abolishing the tax and saving large businesses millions of dollars.

The Opposition leader dismissed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plan to move to an emissions trading scheme next year as "fakery" adding that it was merely the same carbon tax by a different name.

"On the government's own figures, the carbon tax will increase six-fold between mid-2014 and mid-2019," Mr Abbott said.

" On the government's own figures, the carbon tax will reach $38 a tonne by 2019 and increase to $350 a tonne over time. That means, if Labor is re-elected, average families will pay $3000 in carbon tax over the next six years."

Mr Abbott said he had already written to the secretary of the department of the prime minister and cabinet and the Chair of the Clean Air Energy Finance Corporation to advise that if the Coalition is elected their first legislative priority would be to scrap the tax and requested that "arrangements are put in place to identify drafters who are expert in the legislative detail of this package".



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