Scott Morrison says the aim of returning a surplus is to protect the Australian economy rather than trying to achieve a "political prize".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not see a return to a surplus as some sort of "political prize" but one that will protect the economy in the future.
Labor and others have called on the government to do more to stimulate the economy in the face of slow economic growth and with the Reserve Bank having already cut interest rates to wafer thin levels.
The government is set to deliver a surplus this financial year, and for the first time in a decade, having returned a balanced budget in 2018/19.
"We didn't do it to get a certificate on the wall," Mr Morrison told the the Liberal Party's Federal Council meeting in Canberra on Saturday.
"We did it because we know a strong and resilient budget is the insurance Australia needs to protect its future."
In contrast, he said Labor went to the last election saying, 'give us all your money and we'll solve all your problems'.
"That is only ever half right," he quipped to laughter from his Liberal colleagues.
He reiterated the government's response to the devastating drought is the "first cab on the rank" in terms of the biggest immediate call on the budget.
The economy came into shape focus in parliament this week after the International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for Australia this year to 1.7 per cent from 2.1 per cent.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development also cut its Australia 2019 forecast to this level last month.
In a media briefing on the Asian Pacific region on Friday, deputy director for the IMF's Asia Pacific department Jonathan Ostry said he believes Australian policies have reacted appropriately to the slow down.
"There have been a series of policy rate cuts by the Reserve Bank, which are working their way through the system and providing welcome monetary policy stimulus," Mr Ostry said in response to a question.
The central bank's cash rate has been cut three times to a record low 0.75 per cent in recent months.
Under the IMF's baseline case, it believes this will help get output back to trend and inflation back toward the midpoint of the two to three per cent target.
Mr Ostry said fiscal policy has also provided welcome support, particularly through personal income tax cuts.
"It is a tougher call for what next fiscal year's budget should aim for," he said.
He said he respects the government view that there needs to be a balance between longer-term debt goals and the need to provide support.
"We would underscore, however, that in the event that there were further downward shocks to growth in the future, that fiscal policy would need to be part of the answer and to provide additional support, mainly on the spending side," Mr Ostry said.