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Swan proud of his 'battlers' budget

Treasurer Wayne Swan has described his fifth federal budget, to be delivered this evening with a forecast $1.5 billion surplus, as one for the "battlers".

The budget he hands down at 5.30pm (AWST) tonight will support jobs, provide cost-of-living assistance to those under financial pressure, and include initiatives for some of the nation's most vulnerable.

"In many ways this is a battlers' budget," Mr Swan told reporters in his traditional budget day media doorstop heading into Parliament House.

The treasurer played down the distracting Craig Thomson affair that threatens to drown out the budget.

"These things come along, but it won't deter me for one second from staying completely on the case in putting in place this budget," he said, adding it was the one he was most proud of to date.

Mr Swan told his cabinet colleagues on Monday the budget would create a $1.5 billion surplus in 2012/13 and that it would be $2 billion in the black in 2013/14.

From there the surplus would continue to build.

Finance Minister Penny Wong sought to put pressure on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's commitment to a surplus.

"If he opposes any government savings measures he will make it clear to the Australian people he is nothing more than a wrecker," she told ABC radio.

Mr Abbott said any surplus would be based on "cooked books" because Mr Swan had artificially moved spending out of next year, into this year and into the year after.

"Frankly the $1.5 billion surplus is essentially just a rounding error," he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Swan dismissed such talk, saying Mr Abbott had "no credibility".

"I guess he would say that with a $70 billion crater in his budget bottom line and a complete debacle of their election costings at the last election," he said.

"If they decide to refuse and knock back savings in this budget that crater gets even bigger."

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said while the government had deliberately leaked the forecast budget surplus, it had not released the forecast outcome for the current financial year.

There is speculation the deficit will be higher than the $37.1 billion forecast mid-year.

"That's because there's been at least a $20 billion deterioration in the budget," Mr Hockey told reporters.

"So, if there's a $20 billion deterioration in the current budget, how can you believe what they say about next year's budget being a surplus? It's a joke."

He warned that opposition would not rubber-stamp budget measures if it considered them bad policy, nor give Labor a "great big tick" for a surplus it would never deliver.

Outside of the predictable political argy-bargy, St Vincent de Paul Society chief John Falzon is worried the biggest losers in the budget will be sole parents and people living on "paltry" Newstart payments.

"There's nothing wrong with bringing home the bacon for middle Australia but people living on struggle street are surviving on baked beans," Dr Falzon said in a statement.

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Comments

Swan would obviously sell a pack of nuns into slavery if it looked like it might balance the budget.

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