CANBERRA - Jobs will not be sacrificed even if the federal government has to make spending cuts to ensure a lean, tight budget, Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury says.
It's a pledge that has fallen on deaf ears with the coalition accusing Labor of being addicted to spending and blowing out the budget through wasteful programs.
With the looming fiscal cliff crisis engulfing the United States, Mr Bradbury said it was more important than ever for Australia's economy to be managed responsibly.
But there was no denying the flow-on effects of the global financial crisis had dealt a blow to the government's revenue base and thwarted its chances of returning the 2012/2013 budget to surplus.
"This is not a case of the government loosening the purse strings," Mr Bradbury told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
"We are determined to manage our budget in a responsible way and that means there will, on occasion, be need for cuts."
Striving for a tight and disciplined budget would be even more important in the face of growing global uncertainty, but Australian jobs would always be put first.
Coalition frontbencher Jamie Briggs said it was not an economic strategy for Labor to blame other countries for their "budget woes".
The US fiscal cliff saga presented its problems, but it wasn't to blame for the government's lack of revenue and failure to deliver a surplus.
"There is not a revenue problem in Australia, there is a spending problem," Mr Briggs told reporters in Adelaide.