Pacific

New Zealand's new leader sets September date for election

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Bill English addresses the media during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. English announced Wednesday the country will hold its national election on Sept. 23 in what will become a test of his popularity following the surprise resignation of former leader John Key. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Bill English addresses the media during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. English announced Wednesday the country will hold its national election on Sept. 23 in what will become a test of his popularity following the surprise resignation of former leader John Key. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)  (The Associated Press)

New Zealand's recently appointed Prime Minister Bill English announced the country will hold its national election on Sept. 23 in what will become a test of his popularity following the surprise December resignation of former leader John Key.

English said Wednesday his conservative National Party will campaign on its strong record with the economy. He said that budget surpluses would allow the government to spend more on infrastructure as well as pay down debt and enact tax cuts.

Opposition leader Andrew Little said the country was suffering from a housing crisis that needs fixing. Little's Labour Party has formed an opposition alliance with the liberal Green Party.

Under New Zealand law, the prime minister gets to choose the date of the national election, which is held every three years.