Labour leader Andrew Little says National is demonstrating "management by sleep-walk" and while it deserves some credit for boosting benefits it has failed in other respects.
Speaking in response to the Budget in Parliament, Mr Little said National deserved some credit for its step to increase the benefit for families with children.
"We'll give him some credit for that. They've taken a step."
However, it was disappointing in many other respects and the Budget offered little to "ordinary New Zealanders".
It took away the kickstart payments for KiwiSaver which would have built a "little nest egg" for children joining KiwiSaver.
However, Mr Little's flow was somewhat ruined when he came to tell the story of Gene Harris, an Auckland marketing executive trying to buy a house, and instead called him Gene Simmons -- the bass guitarist from Kiss. It at least secured him some laughs from the other side of the House.
Mr Little said National had "been panicked" into doing something about Auckland's housing problem. However, he challenged the Government to also commit to ensuring the houses on the state land due to be developed for housing was affordable.
"Because so far all you've done is look after your rich mates."
He said National had repeatedly refused to address one of the largest long term burdens on the Government books -- the cost of superannuation.
He said National had not made the most of "the good times" of record dairy prices.
"You blew it. And you're turning up today with a Budget that shows the same sleepwalking, the same somnolent management of the last seven years."
He said there was nothing long term in the Budget to give confidence to people struggling to get ahead. He cast doubt about whether the surplus forecast for 2016 would eventuate.
"They might have promised it, they might have budgeted for it, but you can't trust it because it never happened. It is a desperate Government that can not deliver the core promise it made last year."
He said National had failed to deliver the jobs, incomes and surplus, had failed to fix the housing crisis and neglected regional New Zealand.
National MPs gave Mr English a standing ovation after delivering the Budget in Parliament, but Act's David Seymour was the only support partner to stand. United Future leader Peter Dunne did not applaud.
Green Party: Budget falls short
Green co-leader Metiria Turei said the Budget fell far short of delivering a game changer for either children or "Generation Rent".
She said the changes to Working for Families provided little more than "a block of cheese" for most families. It had stopped short of extending the in-work tax credit to those on benefits. "Instead of fixing Working for Families, it remains broken."
She also criticised the decision to make single parents look for work when their child was three years old. "Forcing the parents of toddlers into work is not a solution for child poverty."
There was also little to offer for people aged under 40 who wanted to buy their own home. "The Kiwi dream of a home has been downgraded to the nightmare of Generation Rent."
She said the worst aspect of the Budget was the "broken promise" Mr Key had given to help children in poverty. "Children needed a game changer today and they didn't get it."
"35,000 more children are living in severe poverty since National came into power. A $25 benefit increase which could be eroded to less than half by cuts in accommodation and hardship grants is not enough to lift those children out of poverty."
She said children would also miss out on the $1000 kickstart payment in KiwiSaver, which could have been used to help pay for their education or first homes.
She said National had overseen a 20 per cent increase in the number of those who were employed only for a few hours and most New Zealanders had seen little "The fruits of their labour are going to someone else."
She said it would be easy to say Mr Key didn't care.
"His real problem is nonchalance."
She said his "hair pulling antics" were nothing compared to the embarrassment he should feel for failing to deliver to children.
Most in National had never sat at the kitchen table and agonised over paying the bills. Instead, the Budget was drawn up by National Party MPs "comfortable with their property portfolios."
NZ First leader Winston Peters dubbed it a "Split Enz" Budget: "Everywhere you look is a deficit. As Split Enz put it "I see red, I see red. I see red."
He hit out at measures such as the $6 tax on those leaving and arriving in the country, and the extra funding for Whanau Ora.
However, he was most critical of the failure to reach surplus after years of promising it.
"The surplus is always tomorrow. The fact is Bill English has never, ever delivered a surplus. I make this prediction now: Bill English will never, ever deliver a surplus."
As he talked about being in the red, his caucus held up pictures of the roadside fire alert signs with the needle on the red 'high risk' zone.
Mr Peters read unemployment figures from the regions. "It goes on and on." He warned about ongoing decline in the regions, using "zombie towns" such as Whangarei as an example.
He recalled the Prime Minister's comment that he hoped to regain the trust of Northland, and said he had combed the Budget for measures National would deliver for Northland.
Maori Party co leader Te Ururoa Flavell claimed the credit for the Government's $790 million hardship package "with some help from National."
He said the Maori Party had set up a ministerial committee on poverty with National and the results of that were included in the Budget.
"Most of the country will be surprised a National administration would increase core benefit rates. I think the Prime Minister will admit that." National and Labour had held the government benches for roughly the same amount of time since the 1970s and neither had touched benefits. "Who made the difference? The Maori Party made the difference."
He also defended the extra funding for Whanau Ora, saying it was delivering benefits to families despite criticism from NZ First leader Winston Peters.
To the accompaniment of a chorus of "amens'' from his fellow co-leader Marama Fox, he also ran through the Maori Party's budget packages in areas such as housing, developing Maori land, Whanau Ora, and suicide prevention.
"We have been criticised for only getting the crumbs. That is a blatant lie. The Maori Party has had a real impact on this Government in the tangible gains we have got for Maori."
Criticism of charter schools just "tall poppy syndrome"
Act leader David Seymour described criticism of the charter schools as "tall poppy syndrome" saying he was delighted to have approval and funding to open two more in the Budget.
"We are taking some of the most vulnerable NZ children and putting them into a situation where they are engaged, they learn skills, which turns into qualifications and jobs. Wouldn't it be nice if from time to time instead of showing us the dark underbelly of tall poppy syndrome, they could be supportive."
He said the Budget was an example of a stable centre-right government. However, National had bought into some "short termism" by failing to address superannuation.
He said the public should vote on the future superannuation age in a referendum rather than keep kicking it down the road for another year. The Government could also have sent a good message to business by halting its "corporate welfare" and reducing new spending allowances by 10 per cent a year.
United Future leader Peter Dunne said it was the mantra of the 70s for benefits to be restored but it had not happened for 40 years and then it was a National Government.
"Who would have thought we would be standing in this Parliament today seeing a National Government deliver benefit increases."
He said the paradigm had shifted because of a recognition the role of Government had also shifted.
Mr Dunne said that was down to the more strategic approach the Government was taking in expenditure and setting goals to achieve in different areas.
He said that had the effect of putting social responsibilities on the Government and the Budget was a significant stepping stone for New Zealand.
"At a time when revenue is falling... the Government is able to make such significant social progress and still face the prospect of a surplus. That is not beyond possibility."
One of the few gains Mr Dunne achieved was the redevelopment of Waitangi Wharf on the Chatham Islands. "It's a small step but for them it's a mighty one."
He also urged the Government to use the Auckland housing issue to work out what areas of the Reform Management Act reforms it could pass through. He said he would not agree to change the principles of the Act but believed there were process changes that could be made.