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Swan continues to defend ditching surplus


Treasurer Wayne Swan has accused the opposition of twisting the facts about the economy as he continues to defend Labor's decision to drop its budget surplus.

Mr Swan on Friday said that jobs and economic growth would be at risk if the government pursued further budget cuts in the quest for a surplus.

Tax revenues "copped a very big hit" over the past four months, with the Finance Department's latest monthly statement showing cash receipts for 2012/13 were down $3.9 billion on expectations.

"Given the hole in the revenue this year, it would simply be irresponsible to make very significant cuts now," Mr Swan told the Nine Network on Friday.

"Our job is to get these big economic calls right, and that's the call that we've made."

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the government's failure to return the budget to surplus was due to overspending, not a lack of revenue.

"The Labor Party is getting the revenue in, the problem is they are wasting money," he said.

Mr Hockey said revenue this year was six per cent higher than last year, and last year it was 12 per cent higher than the year before.

The treasurer said Mr Hockey was "at war with the facts", adding the latest revenue figures didn't match the previous forecasts.

Despite the backtrack on the surplus, the economy remains resilient, there's a strong investment pipeline in resources, unemployment is low and inflation contained, Mr Swan said.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott said now that the government had all but abandoned its surplus, it should loosen the purse strings and start a third round of stimulus.

Labor backbencher Doug Cameron said Australia needed to learn from Europe, where austerity drives had taken many countries' economies backwards.

Mr Swan said he spoke with Prime Minister Julia Gillard about scrapping the surplus before she went on leave.