Hobbit law passes, but not everybody on board

For: National, Act, United Future, Maori Party
Against: Labour, Greens, Progressive

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson claims film industry workers associated with The Hobbit are secure now new legislation is in place.

Ms Wilkinson said the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment provides certainty to the film industry in New Zealand – worth $2.8 billion to the economy.

In big call for the opposition, the Labour Party chose to oppose the popular legislation, as did the Greens and Progressive MP Jim Anderton.

Act and United got in behind the law change.

The Maori Party, which was lobbied hard by the prime minister and late to declare its hand, ultimately supported the legislation.

The prime minister had sought a broad consensus on the Hobbit law, but despite the risk of public opprobrium, senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard and others were hostile from the start.

Mr Mallard said the Hobbit Law "makes us look like a banana republic," while Greens co-leader Russel Norman was quoted as saying, "We're going to prostitute our industrial law."

For another Labour MP, Clare Curran, it was a case of "NZ Law: Brought to you by Warner Bros."

For Ms Wilkinson, the new legislation, “It clarifies what is already widespread industry practice – that actors, crew members and other production personnel in the film industry who sign on as independent contractors are just that, independent contractors. If they sign on as an employee, they are an employee.”

Ms Wilkinson said the government gave serious though to how it would respond to the threat posed to the entire industry over recent industrial action.

“While this is a direct response to ensure The Hobbit is filmed here, it is also in response to the fact that had we lost The Hobbit our reputation as a filming location would have suffered hugely.”

"Gross injustice"
Meanwhile, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) warn extending "The Hobbit" law to all contractors would extend a "gross injustice" done to a few to the many.

EMPU national secretary Andrew Little said contractor agreements have the effect of denying workers access to employment protections including minimum standards, personal grievances and holiday rights.

"the law change denies workers in the film industry a right that has been around for more than a hundred years which is to have the real nature of an agreement to perform work determined by the courts," he said.

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8 Comments & Questions

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Social Unity Party,masquerading as Greens,Whats Liebours and Greens problem on prostitutes.Both Parties voted for it.Sorry Norman arn't you an Australian in a NZ parliament.Hello!Prostitute?Hmmm.

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Labour ,Greens and the silver medalist in the Mayoral election.in Canterbury all voted against something that is special for NZ.They plus the Unions have taken a terrible beating in common sense.Lets face it you bunch of political no hopers,YOU LOST WE WON EAT THAT.

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Great legislation but what a dumb deal overall.

Yes the Hobbit is a PR coup for John Key and his permanent band of photographers and TV crews, but the deal simply does not stack up economically. It is a cost to NZ not the huge gain they portray.

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If Warner Bros spend NZ$500 million which would not otherwise have been spent here, the Government will net $75 million in GST. That should readily cover any outlay, and the income tax on enhanced salaries etc is then all profit.

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Except for the relatively small amount for marketing cost assistance the "cost" is just forgone tax revenue. If the deal was not done then there would be no tax at all. That is, NZ has got a little bit less of something as opposed to nothing from no film being produced in NZ

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Fact: The Hobbit movies being filmed here will bring immense benefits to New Zealand.
Opinion: At a huge or an acceptable cost to the taxpayer and to our sovereingty.

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The cost to NZ is $100M and the gain is $144M = net $44M

The downside is that we let the Warner Bros guys treat us like a Banana Republic - which is correct.

THe John Key photo shoot PR exercise makes out it was the best deal in a generation - if it wasn't a popular film like the Hobbit it woudln't have even made the news.
Meanwhile John Key waits for his next photo shoot opportunity while the economy continues to dive through lack of foresight and long term wealth generating policy

I thought that was what your job was John??

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Maybe John Key should leave these situations to Bill English to manage - he seeems to have a more mature attitude and stable way of addressing issues, than the American style ra ra style of John Key.

The word Teflon comes to mind with John - simiar to Steve Tew at the NZRU

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