Help for first-home buyers should top the Government's list of Budget sweeteners, voters say.
But today's Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll also reveals rising pressure for tax cuts - and Prime Minister John Key yesterday dropped a big hint that National would campaign on lowering taxes for middle-income earners in a third term.
The poll asked voters which policies would be good for them and their family, and would also benefit the country - and some of the answers may surprise National.
Help for buyers of first homes was top, 76.4 per cent of those surveyed believing it would be good for the country, including those who did not see it making a difference to them personally. Other policies that rated highly included reining in energy and fuel prices.
But voters also backed tax cuts and a rise in the minimum wage over an extension to paid parental leave as something that would benefit both them and their family, as well as the country.
Key yesterday ruled tax cuts out of the Budget, but said getting the books back in surplus gave National options down the track. Those options included spending more, or returning some of the surplus through the tax system.
Asked who was most in need of relief, Key said: "Middle New Zealand pays a fair bit of tax and often doesn't get a lot in return."
But the poll suggests voters think the poorest New Zealanders are hurting the most - with a staggering 74.8 per cent of voters believing the rich have benefited most from the Key Government.
Asked whether the Government had done an equally good job of improving the standard of living for poor people, 60 per cent said no. Meanwhile, only 40 per cent of those surveyed believed the Government had done a good job of improving their own standard of living.
But they gave National a pass mark in keeping unemployment down and balancing taxation and public expenditure, while overall they rated National's management of the economy at a high 69 per cent.
Finance Minister Bill English yesterday talked down incentives or "windfall gains" for first-home buyers but the Government has signalled measures to free up land supply for new housing, and it is also tipped to unveil measures to bring down building costs.
English is also expected to phase in an extension to paid parental leave after National came under pressure to match Labour's promise to increase the scheme from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.
National headed into Budget week on the back foot after a series of ministerial scandals that claimed the scalp of former construction minister Maurice Williamson, and wounded Justice Minister Judith Collins.
But the Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll shows National was barely dented by the scandals and still has enough support to govern alone, taking the pressure off English to deliver a king hit today to seize back the political agenda.
It is being pitched instead as steady as she goes - and voters appear to back that approach.
Tax rates will be the most closely watched subject in the Budget, Google Search trends suggest. During the past year interest in taxes was nearly twice as strong as the next most searched issue – welfare. Then came wages, house prices and salaries. Waikato had the highest search interest in tax rates, while Wellington residents searched for salaries and welfare more than anyone else. Canterbury topped the search for wages, while Aucklanders were more interested in house prices than were residents of other regions.
Back in black
A wafer-thin surplus in the year to June 30, 2015, although national debt, already more than $60 billion, will continue to climb for a couple more years.
Cash for Christchurch jobseekers
A one-off payment of $3000 for up to 1000 beneficiaries.
Chasing tax dodgers
Inland Revenue will get another $48.6 million over five years.
Additional $100.9m for the Defence Force announced in April.
More money for teachers
$359m over four years for new payments to executive principals, change principals, expert teachers and lead teachers.
Up in smoke
Duty-free tobacco. Allowances will be cut from 200 cigarettes to 50 per person.
An extra $20m for 6000 more places in the Apprenticeship Reboot scheme.
Watching the pennies
Another $22m over four years for non-government organisations delivering community budgeting services.
Free drop-in sore-throat clinics will be expanded and an extra $20m over the next four years will go to combat rheumatic fever.
ON THE CARDS
Time with the nippers
An extension of paid parental leave, probably to 18 weeks but maybe not immediately.
More measures to boost the supply of social housing and affordable homes.
The lion's share of the new spending to health and education.
- The Dominion Post