Ratings agencies welcomed the fiscal consolidation plans in the Australian budget, saying they were consistent with retaining the country's AAA credit rating. All three major agencies -- Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch -- on Wednesday said the budget surplus plan was positive, but cautioned it could be derailed by external risks from global growth and commodity market developments. "Restoring the government's strong fiscal settings through a forecast return to surpluses over the cycle and maintaining low debt will provide flexibility to respond to large economic and financial shocks," S&P said in a note. This, it added, was consistent with maintaining its AAA rating. However, it warned that the strategy relied on an economic outlook that remained highly uncertain. The agency said the most identifiable risk to Australia's ratings would be any significant weakening in the credit quality of the country's banking sector, but this was seen as unlikely. Treasurer Wayne Swan unveiled a Aus$1.5 billion (US$1.52 billion) budget surplus on Tuesday, funded by deep cuts to defence and foreign aid spending. Swan vowed an ambitious Aus$33.6 billion in savings, slashing Aus$5.5 billion from military spending and trimming Australia's overseas aid by Aus$2.9 billion, along with a series of other reforms to tax and welfare benefits. The measures are forecast to deliver a modest surplus for the 2012-13 fiscal year starting July 1. Like S& P, Moody's welcomed the tough spending cuts but warned of the "external risks from global growth and commodity market developments". "From a credit point of view, however, a substantial positive move in the government's fiscal position is the most important factor," it said. Fitch said the budget would reinforce Australia's future flexibility, but it warned that achieving a surplus could be "challenging". However, even if a surplus did not happen it would not automatically have ratings implications. "Even if the economy unexpectedly slows, it is likely that any deficit in the coming financial year would be small," it said. "And over the medium term we would give credit for successfully implemented fiscal consolidation that helped reverse the government debt trajectory." Mining-driven Australia was the only advanced nation to dodge recession during the global downturn, and it again leads the major economies by becoming the first set to record a budget excess.