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 is 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 fiscal cliff crisis engulfing the US, Mr Bradbury said it was more important than ever for Australia's economy to be managed responsibly.
But there was no denying 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 said 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 said. ''The Australian budget problem is Labor's spending, Labor's waste and mismanagement.''
Former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello managed to deliver budgeted surpluses in 1998 and 2001 despite the Asian economic meltdown and the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mr Briggs said.
''There is no excuse for (Treasurer) Wayne Swan not to deliver a surplus.''