Finance Minister Steven Joyce would not be drawn on the shape of a family and tax package expected to be the centrepiece of Thursday's Budget.

But he continued to downplay expectations when he talked to reporters today at the Petone plant where the Budget is being printed.

"There is not a massive amount of room," he said.

"The amount we are in surplus is not massive compared to the overall Government investment, so I think people would be overstating it to say there is a massive amount of headroom."


Changes to Working for Families tax credits, addressing bracket-creep by raising some of the lower tax thresholds at which various tax rates kick in, and an increase in the accommodation supplement are likely areas for attention in the Budget.

He rejected a suggestion it would be a lolly scramble Budget designed for election year.

"We've always the approach that you set a long -term track and each year, whether it is election year or any other year, delivers on that path that you are heading down.

"In terms of lolly scramble, I have seen so many people requesting so much over the last few days I think I would have to deliver five or six Budgets on Thursday to meet all their expectations of different sector groups.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce at the Petone plant which prints the Budget. Photo / Audrey Young
Finance Minister Steven Joyce at the Petone plant which prints the Budget. Photo / Audrey Young

"It is about balancing all the different concerns and interests that people have."

Asked if would be a boring Budget, a stated aim of predecessor Bill English, Joyce said "I'm cut from the same cloth.

"Particularly now that I'm finance minister I'm quite conservative."

Commenting on the prospect of Budget forecasts showing four more years of growth, on top of the six previous year, he said 10 years of continuous growth would be a good achievement for New Zealand, particularly in the context of other parts of the world and what they had been dealing with.

"We have been in the same environment but there is no doubt that over the past few years we have been travelling better than most of the countries we like to compare ourselves with."

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said he had no trust of faith in National to deliver to lower and middle-income New Zealanders.

National's changes to Working for Families abatement rates and thresholds in 2011 had resulted in nearly half a billion dollars less going to New Zealand families.

"We have got to be careful that any package that is put forward in Working for Families isn't just making up for what the National Government has already cut."