Prime Minister John Key says the Government is still on track to reach surplus, with today's half-yearly fiscal update painting a "reasonably good picture" of the economy.

Treasury will release its half-yearly economic and fiscal update this afternoon.

Key told TV3's Firstline this morning that the update would show the Government was back on track to reach surplus by 2014/15, despite some changes.

He said the Government's deficit was down from $18 billion last year to $9b this year, and was on track to drop to $4-5b next year.


Key said the impact of the Government's changes since 2008 was "quite stark".

"Individually, quite often a New Zealander or groups of New Zealanders don't like an individual decision we've made. It affects them or their community or their interests, and actually that's totally fair enough."

But the overall picture was robust, he said.

"And I think New Zealanders like, ... at least, that we're dealing with the issues."

Key said unemployment - at 12-year high of 7.3 per cent - was a major focus of attention.

He pointed to positive signs including the rebuild of Christchurch, movement in the Auckland property market and the encouragement of small business.

Key said the Government had done a pretty good job, given the conditions it faced this year.

"If you live in a sort of dream world, as the opposition parties do, where you don't have all these things like Europe melting down and the global financial crisis and all of those things, then of course it's easy.


"But in the real world, actually I think we've done pretty well. The crime rate is falling, the health system is improving. The one number that sticks a bit is the unemployment rate, but outside of that, actually things are generally on the improve."

Key said interest rates were low, the cost of living was reasonably low and the wage gap with Australia was narrowing.