Here is the news that mattered this morning in New Zealand's political economy, including news that the Budget lockup is about to start, the Reserve Bank's headquarters has been evacuated, unions are finding widespread unpaid overtime and labour hire firms' use of migrants is coming under increasing scrutiny.
Budget locked up - Journalists, economists and tax experts will shortly be locked up in the Beehive's Grand Hall to absorb Budget 2018 and hear from Finance Minister Grant Robertson in a news conference around 12.30 pm. We will be able to publish the details of the Budget and Robertson's comments after 2pm. A significant surplus is expected, along with the Government meeting its budget targets for debt and increasing spending on health, education and housing.
Trace elements - The Reserve Bank has temporarily evacuated its headquarters on The Terrace this morning after a trace of asbestos was found. Essential operations will occur out of its Auckland premises. Governor Adrian Orr said air tests were conducted and came back clear and the appropriate remedial action has been taken. However, "because of the age of the building, asbestos must be presumed to be present," he said. See more here on Newsroom Pro.
Labour hirer resigns - An investigation by Newshub's Michael Morrah has uncovered illegal contracts for migrant workers. The manager in charge of drawing up and signing the contracts forbidding migrants from joining a union resigned after the investigation. The story illustrates the growing focus on the use by labour hire firms of migrants.
Overtime bills - The impact of a a court ruling against Smiths City forcing workers to work unpaid before their shifts is now spreading. First Union published a list yesterday of 12 companies, including Briscoe’s, Rebel Sport, The Warehouse, Countdown, Pak n Save, Cotton On, Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman, Farmers, Kmart, Whitcoulls and Warehouse Stationery, that almost 1,500 workers had complained about doing similar things.