Time to repay pandemic sacrifice: Albanese

Anthony Albanese says Australians should be repaid for their sacrifices during the pandemic.
Anthony Albanese says Australians should be repaid for their sacrifices during the pandemic.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says it's his "fundamental responsibility" to repay the sacrifices Australians have made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Albanese will use a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday to set the scene for Labor's election campaign, spelling out a $440 million plan to upgrade schools and help student wellbeing.

Schools will be able to access grants from a Schools Upgrade Fund to improve air quality with measures such as better ventilation, building more outdoor classrooms, replacing boarded-up windows and doors and buying air purifiers.

Funding will also be available for school upgrades including new and refurbished buildings and trades training centres.

A Labor government would also provide schools with extra funding for counsellors and psychologists, as well as camps, excursions and other activities to improve kids' wellbeing.

"The Australian people have been magnificent - calm in the midst of turmoil, looking out for each other in tough times," Mr Albanese will say.

"And if I'm elected prime minister, I see it as my fundamental responsibily to repay these sacrifices, to reward these efforts, to prove worthy of the generosity and bravery of the Australian people."

As states and territories unveil their back-to-school plans, Mr Albanese said children had suffered a "unique loss" during the pandemic and needed extra attention.

"They've been robbed of some of the simple joys of growing up - school camps, team sports, playground friendships, and sleepovers," he said.

"Remote learning, exam chaos, cancelled sport and camps and now the delays in supplying paediatric vaccines, have turned what should be some of the best years of their lives into a bit of a nightmare."

He said with education being the most powerful weapon against disadvantage, Labor would work with the state and territory governments to get every school to "100 per cent of its fair funding level".

Mr Albanese is expected to spell out a commitment to lift wages, make child care cheaper, boost renewable energy, improve inclusion, work towards Indigenous reconciliation and strengthen Medicare.

"If we get this moment right, and I have every confidence we can, Australia can emerge from this once-in-a-century crisis better, stronger, more fair, and more prosperous."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to call an election shortly after the March 29 budget is delivered, with published opinion polls pointing to the coalition losing its parliamentary majority.

Australian Associated Press