5.15pm: Time to wrap up the updates for Budget 2011. Herald Online staff will continue to bring you more reaction through the night.
5.10pm: "Somebody is going to make a lot of money when the government carries out its surgery on our state companies next year. Unfortunately it will be the Chinese and the Australians," says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
5.04pm: ComVoices - an umbrella group for community and voluntary organisations - says the Budget's done nothing to address the growing inequality gap in New Zealand. In a statement the group says while an extra $55.2 million on work and training subsidies for young people is good, the Government has failed to consider the long term drag inequality is having on social, health, housing and justice sectors.
4.55pm: Greenpeace says New Zealand's chances of winning a place in the global clean energy race have been dealt another blow today. Campaigner Nathan Argent: "Instead, the Government is heavily subsidising the nation's biggest polluters with taxpayer's money - to the tune of nearly a billion dollars."
4.46pm: Science New Zealand CEO Anthony Scott says "In difficult times, it is reassuring to see that investment is sustained in these key platforms for economic and environmental prosperity." $36 million over four years has been reprioritised for business research and development, commercialisation and earthquake research.
4.44pm: The Medical Association gives a thumbs up to the funding of 40 extra medical training places. "This is a real positive, although the NZMA has some concern that there has not been increased funding for initiatives, such as the Voluntary Bonding Scheme, to help alleviate medical and wider health workforce shortages. However these initiatives appear to be working well and we would like to see the momentum continue," says NZMA Chair Dr Paul Ockelford.
4.38pm: Herald Business columnist Fran O'Sullivan rates Bill English's "Blue Sky" Budget a 7.5/10. "The major caveat hanging over the Budget is the heroic growth assumption." 4.29pm: Want the Budget in a nutshell? Herald Online staff break it down for you. Read it here.
4.20pm: An employment relations expert says women will be worst affected by today's Budget. Massey University Associate Professor Jane Parker says the higher level of worker contributions may put people off paying into KiwiSaver. "Women could be hardest hit, particularly as many are contingent workers and/or have broken career trajectories. It becomes an additional burden, and as such a double whammy, because it denies them an opportunity to build momentum to have a long and credible savings record."
4.13pm: Early Childcare Council chief Peter Reynolds greets the Budget with a "sense of relief". He welcomes the Government's targeting of some new spending to improve access and quality for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
4.05pm: Budget 2011 has tweets flying from the left, the right and even from the centre. Read them here.
3.59pm: "Zero ideas, zero leadership", Labour's Finance spokesman David Cunliffe says. "Unspecified cuts of $1 billion over four years to public services will hit education and health, and there will be no alternative to service cuts or a return to the failed user pays policies of the past."
3.54pm: "It's tight, but not brutal." United Future leader Peter Dunne congratulates the Government on delivering a Budget "which realises what families have known for some time: you have to live within your means."
3.46pm: Helen Kelly of the CTU says "today's Budget confirms the government has no idea what families are facing to balance their budgets. Working for families is a crucial addition to many family incomes. Families earning $35,000 are not faced with choosing between what's nice to and what they need to have. They are choosing between which of the necessities will be paid for this week."
3.40pm: Andrew Little of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says the Budget does nothing for working families. "What was most needed was investment in job creation and growth. The Government has missed the opportunity to do either. The widely expected cuts to Kiwisaver and Working for Families will place a further financial burden on middle- and lower-income earners."
3.33pm: The Herald's Economics Editor Brian Fallow says "Right Budget, wrong time." He says "This may well have been a good Budget - if it was delivered this time next year. Right now it is risky to freeze government spending. It is based on a strong pick-up in the economy.
But that recovery at this point only exists in economists' forecasts."
3.26pm: Greens co-leader Russel Norman says this Budget will increase the gap between rich and poor. "The old tax switcheroo is old National up to its old tricks. How is it that KiwiSaver and Working for Families, which support ordinary New Zealanders get cut because they are deemed "nice to haves," but massive tax cuts for bank CEO's are essential and must stay in place? Last year's tax cuts for those who have the most and this year's spending cuts for those who need the most will lead to increased inequality in New Zealand," he's just told Parliament.
3.21pm: Bernard Hickey from interest.co.nz criticises the "Tweak and Fiddle" budget, but says it'll get John "Smile and Wave" Key re-elected on November 26. He says "it hasn't solved the underlying structural deficit in New Zealand's government and its economy. That will have to be dealt with in 2012 or 2013 when the growth doesn't arrive and both the deficit and the foreign borrowing start rising again. By then we will be in the same boat as the Portugese, the Greeks and the Irish."
3.14pm: Prime Minister John Key celebrates the $942 million to complete the Government's funding for ultra-fast broadband . He says it proves he runs an "ipad Government", not a "ring-binder Opposition."
3.10pm: S&P analyst Kyran Curry said the negative outlook on the New Zealand foreign currency rating reflected the possibility of a downgrade if New Zealand's external debt did not improve. Achieving the savings outlined in today's Budget "will be an important component of such an improvement." Mr Curry said the Government's finances may need to be adjusted faster if the cost of money borrowed from overseas by our banks rose. "On the other hand, the ratings could stabilize at the current levels upon a sharper-than-expected improvement in the external accounts, led by stronger export performance and higher public savings."
3.05pm: John Key thanks his deputy for a "Budget for our times". He criticises Phil Goff for the Labour leader's comments that the global financial crisis was over by 2009, saying it proves "he lives on fantasy island."
3.00pm: "Phil Goff might not like it, but Standard and Poors does." Prime Minister John Key rises to his feet to speak on the Budget.
2.59pm: Mr Goff said the budget did little to cut New Zealand's overall public and private debt level - which he claimed would only drop from 86 to 85 per cent of GDP by 2014/15. The deficit could not be blamed on the global financial crisis as it was over by 2009, he said.
2.54pm: Herald political commentator John Armstrong also rates the Budget a 6/10. "Bill English's third Budget will stand or fall on one thing and one thing only. For his and National's sake, the Treasury had better have got it right this time with its forecasts - that the economy really has stopped contracting and the recovery is finally under way. If not, the Budget will be thrown back in English's face come election time," he says.
2.51pm: Herald political editor Audrey Young rates this Budget 6/10. "Bill English's plan to return the country to surplus sounds good but feels flimsy. It is based on heroic assumptions of a strong economic economy, high wage growth and and nothing going wrong," she says.
2.46pm: Phil Goff says the Budget proves the Government has "no plan and no vision". It left New Zealand with a record $16.7 billion deficit and did nothing to address the problems facing the country, he said.
2.41pm: Leader of the Opposition Phil Goff rises to his feet to criticise the Budget as a "sub-zero Budget which has frozen New Zealand in time."
2.40pm: Bill English finishes reading the Budget.
2.38pm: "Budget 2011 is about building our future," Bill English says. "It's not a typical election-year budget, it's appropriate to New Zealand's situation."
2.31pm: Mr English says the Budget would continue to protect vulnerable New Zealanders, while cutting Government capital spending by more than $5 billion by 2014/15. He said it would see funding Kiwisaver, Working for Families, student loans and ACC cut back."Kiwisaver, Working for Families, Student loans and ACC are all examples where cost escalation has occurred."
2.28pm: The Herald's Adam Bennett reports Bill English's Budget has done enough to stave off a downgrade from Standard & Poor's but not enough to reduce the risk of one. S&P said the Government's budget was "consistent with the assumptions that feed into our sovereign ratings on New Zealand". They currently stand at AA+ with a negative outlook for government debt denonminated in foreign currencies and and AAA with a stable outlook for debt in local currency. More to come.
2.18pm: Mr English confirms cuts to the annual KiwiSaver tax credit with the incentive being halved for the year ending June 30 2012 and beyond. From April 2013 the minimum worker contribution and compulsory employer contributions will rise from the current 2 per cent to 3 per cent. This incentive had been widely expected to be removed.
2.14pm: Mr English's colleagues give him a round of applause for announcing the creation of an earthquake Kiwi Bond, which will generate funds to help meet the Government's share of rebuilding Christchurch.
2.08pm: Budget 2011 builds a strong platform for jobs and growth, sets a credible path back to surplus by 2014/15 and helps increase national savings, Finance Minister Bill English says.
"The Budget does this while continuing to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders, increasing investment in health and education, and establishing a recovery fund to help pay for rebuilding Christchurch," he has told Parliament.
2.04pm: Finance Minister has begun reading the Budget.
1.55pm: Welcome to the Herald Online's 2011 Budget coverage. Finance Minister Bill English is about to unveil his 3rd Budget, largely tipped to be "no-frills". It's expected Government assistance will be more tightly targeted, huge rates of borrowing capped and that the Government will pledge to get the books back into surplus within five years.