"No alarms and no surprises," as that old Radiohead song goes.

As billed by the Prime Minister, this was a Budget at greater risk of being called boring than dangerously radical.

It was fiscally robust and the dollar rose on strong surplus and debt projections.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson passed that test.

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Labour employment law policies will make harder to win over the business community tougher than by just balancing the books – but this was a good start.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson receiving a hug from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after reading his Budget in Parliament. Expect to see a charm offensive in the coming days. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Finance Minister Grant Robertson receiving a hug from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after reading his Budget in Parliament. Expect to see a charm offensive in the coming days. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Robertson put a price tag on the big social promises of the election campaign, possibly erring on the cautious side with regards to areas like education and housing.

It was a deft balancing act, politically shrewd.

This wasn't a Budget that could win the 2020 election but it is one that could have lost it.

Its job was to provide a platform from which those middle New Zealanders disgruntled by the MMP driven outcome last October can be won over, without selling out those who voted for social change.

With a step to the left, it was a Budget that treads the familiar centrist path we've become accustomed to from New Zealand governments for nearly 20 years.

But with no alarms, no surprises and little in the way of "lolly scramble" spending for the average voter, it was a Budget that will rely on shrewd salesmanship to win over the public.

There's always a risk in aiming to please everyone that you end up pleasing no one.

There was some vision. There was a new tone and style of language. It was one that emphasised a stable but steady transformation to a fairer and more equal society over time.

The New Zealand Herald interviews Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following the 2018 budget lock up.

But there is a subtlety to that vision. Trust us – it won't happen overnight, but it will happen.

Sir John Key had an intuitive knack for selling that kind of subtlety to middle New Zealand. There are high expectations on the left that Jacinda Ardern does too.

With maternity leave looming and much scepticism in the electorate about Winston Peters, the Government will need to make the most of the post-Budget window.

Expect to see a charm offensive in the coming days – more vision, more talk of economic transformation. The selling of this Budget will not be in the detail.