The Opposition says that in government it would spend $4 billion helping nearly 900,000 families struggling to pay child care bills.
The proposal would cut annual costs for child care by up to $2100 per child for families earning up to $174,000 a year.
The scheme, to cost $4 billion over three years, would start from July next year were Labor to win the May 18 election, and comes with a pledge to assist 887,000 families.
The policy is aimed at one of the biggest difficulties facing parents.
High charges for looking after preschool youngsters at times is forcing one of them to give up a job and stay at home as an unpaid carer.
And its release today, as part of Labor’s broad campaign promise to make the cost of living more bearable, marks the critical three week countdown to Election Day.
It comes as Opposition leader Bill Shorten prepares to confront Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the first leaders’ debate on Monday night on 7TWO.
One line used with the cold care announcement is likely to be repeated by Mr Shorten in the debate: “Labor can pay for cheaper child care for working families because unlike Scott Morrison and the Liberals, we aren’t giving bigger handouts to the top end of town.”
The Labor policy would increasing the subsidy rate from 85 per cent to 100 per cent up to the capped hourly child care fee of cap $11.77.
This would be available to some 372,000 families earning up to $69,000 a year, subject to an activity test for job seeking.
This would make child care effectively free for them, Labor says.
Families earning between $69,000 and $100,000 would receive a subsidy rate between 100 per cent and 85 per cent up to the hourly fee cap, and families earning between $100,000 and $174,000 would receive a subsidy rate between 85 per cent and 60 per cent up to the fee cap.
A policy’s aim is to boost subsidies for Centre Based Child Care, Family Day Care and Outside School Hours Care, including holiday care.
And the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would be instructed to monitor “excessive fee increases” by child care businesses to prevent prices going up to gouge the extra assistance to parents.
Labor says the names of ”unscrupulous providers” would be made public.