Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan is "completely dumbfounded" that anyone would suggest New Zealand's economic performance was better than Australia's.
A war of words broke out between Australian politicians following the release of Finance Minister Bill English's fifth budget here yesterday.
English announced a return to surplus - of just $75 million - in 2014/15.
His Australian counterpart, Swan, was asked about it during parliamentary question time in Canberra yesterday.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey asked: "How can the Australian treasurer insist that the Government's budget of deficits, higher unemployment and slower economic growth is unavoidable when New Zealand has been able to deliver an earlier surplus without a major resources industry and a strong New Zealand dollar?"
Swan said New Zealand had been through a recession, had lower growth than Australia, and lifted GST in 2010.
The Opposition wanted to make the Australian economy smaller, he said.
"They want to make it more like New Zealand."
The debate continued on Twitter.
"@joeHockey asked me in #qt why Australia's economy can't be as 'good' as New Zealand's. Few facts for you," Swan tweeted.
He posted graphs showing New Zealand's unemployment rate and Gross Domestic Profit compared to the Australian figures.
"Australia's economy outpacing NZ's," he concluded.
Hockey responded on the social media site saying "Swan against surpluses!".
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