It may have been Steven Joyce's first Budget speech, but the package he unveiled yesterday was the slick work befitting a government in power for nine years.

Once again this National Government has unashamedly dipped deep into Labour territory to deliver a social Budget that focuses on people. It is arguably a transparent attempt to gain votes in the upcoming general election.

The star of the show is the Family Incomes Package, which includes tax cuts, and increases for many on Working for Families and the Accommodation Supplement -- a package which will cost $6.5 billion in the next four years.

The tax cuts will certainly have most smiling as anyone earning more than $14,000 a year will pay less tax as the thresholds for the lowest two tax brackets are raised. People earning more than $22,000 will get $11 more a week, those earning more than $52,000 $20.


There may not be much in it for Hawke's Bay specifically, but the argument will be that everyone across the country benefits.

This Budget is straight out of the John Key practical politics playbook and shows that his former lieutenants, Bill English and Mr Joyce, know what they need to do to stay in power.

It is a Budget the National Government has been building up to for a number of years and covers all the bases. Some may say it is quite cynically timed to perfection for election year but either way it is simply smart politics.

A lot has been offered, but it is all on the proviso that this Government gets voted in for a fourth term in September.

Time will tell if the voters take the bait. I wouldn't bet against it as governments are voted out, not in and, on this performance, National has done enough to keep the electorate happy.