Josh Frydenberg insists he is not seeking to cut spending after the next federal election after his big budget cash splash last week.
The treasurer's third budget does not forecast a surplus in at least the next decade and continues to edge towards a trillion dollars of debt.
Repeatedly asked on ABC's Insiders program on Sunday whether the government intends cutting spending after the election - which will be held in the next year - Mr Frydenberg said: "We are focused on the here and now".
"We are not seeking to cut spending after the next election. We are always striving to balance the books and we did it before and we will do it again."
The budget spent almost an extra $100 billion over the next four years, all but wiping the additional revenue received due to a stronger than expected economic recovery and a spike in iron ore prices.
Unsurprisingly, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese doesn't believe the tactics of the treasurer or Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
"Quite clearly, Scott Morrison has a plan to just get through the next election and then we'll see cuts, because we know from this government, just like we saw in 2014 when it first came to office, that they will make cuts, they will return to type," he told reporters in Narangba, Queensland.
The government's approach is in stark contrast to its stance when it came to power in 2013 when it blamed Labor for a 'debt and deficit disaster.
But the man who led that charge, former Liberal treasurer Joe Hockey and who brought down the infamously tight 2014 budget, is on board with the government's current strategy.
He told Sky News nobody really knows how the pandemic is going to play out and that it is entirely feasible there will be new variants of the existing viruses which will have an impact on the global economy.
"What we do know is that we are in for a period of volatility," Mr Hockey said.
"If the government has the money available to cushion the blows of the pandemic then it is right to spend that money, provided that there is the realistic goal to repair the budget when it is possible to do so."
Mr Frydenberg said about half of the new spending is temporary, such as extending the low and medium income tax offset (LMITO) for another year.
The other half is on long term commitments on aged care, disability support, mental health and women's safety.
Mr Frydenberg is sticking by the stage three income tax cuts that are due to start in 2024/25, even though they were legislated when the budget was in far better shape and heading towards a surplus before the pandemic.
The cuts lower the 32.5 per cent and 37 per cent marginal tax rates to 30 per cent and flatten the tax structure for people earning between $45,000 and $200,000, costing the budget around $130 billion.
"They are legislated tax cuts, they are in the budget numbers and do create a stronger and fairer system," he said.
But he avoided saying whether people earning less that $80,000 would be worse off when the LMITO ends and the stage three tax cuts begin, despite being pressed many times by Insiders host David Speers.
"The low and middle income tax offset which you are referring to has been extended for a year," Mr Frydenberg replied.
"We've used it as a stimulus measure, not a permanent feature of the tax system. What is a permanent feature is what is legislated through the parliament."
Australian Associated Press