New Zealand says 'zero' budget will bring surplus

By the Associated Press | May 23, 2012 | 10:16 PM EDT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's government promises to tackle rising debt and return the country's books to the black in two years.

The center-right government unveiled a relatively austere budget Thursday which it says includes no new discretionary spending.

Neighboring Australia recently announced a plan to become the first developed nation to return a budget surplus following the economic downturn, and New Zealand hopes to follow close behind.

China's continued demand for commodities has helped both countries weather the downturn better than most.

But the opposition Labour Party says austerity is not the way to grow the economy, and the so-called "zero budget" highlights the government's failures.