Hockey calls on Labor to back his budget agenda

TREASURER Joe Hockey has made a last-ditch effort to get Labor on side with his budget cuts before the bargaining chips hit the table when politicians return to Canberra next week.

Under siege from the Opposition, The Greens and Clive Palmer and his growing Senate entourage, Mr Hockey called on Labor to back the government's agenda on Friday.

In a media conference in Perth, Mr Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann urged those standing in the way of almost $38 billion worth of cuts to negotiate.

But those budget savings, which Mr Hockey has said were necessary to bring the budget back to surplus in ten years' time, all have to be legislated.

And as Senate budget estimates begin next week, the Opposition will be looking to capitalise on public sentiment against the cuts, and are unlikely to concede any ground.

That will leave the government hamstrung between tough negotiations with Senate crossbenchers to pass some of the cuts, or abandoning the key agenda of its first budget.