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Overseas film making crew were pouring into New Zealand while the prime minister was in Los Angeles claiming Hollywood investment in New Zealand creates jobs.
Speaking on TV3’s The Nation programme at the weekend, Wellington city councillor Jo Coughlan and NZCTU president Helen Kelly agreed 400 overseas technicians had recently applied for visas to work at the Weta post production facility in the capital.
“Yeah, we don’t object at all to the prime minister going to Hollywood and talking about bringing films here, and the industry that it's creating is obviously very exciting, there's nothing that we object to in that model,” the union leader said.
“What we object to is some of the things that have run alongside that, like, for example, very free immigration laws which have now changed.
“We've just seen Weta apply to bring 400 foreign workers in to do some core jobs in the industry that they should be training and giving to New Zealanders.”
But Ms Coughlan said it was people coming in to upskill Kiwis across the board.
“The spinoff of these innovative creative people who come into our city, what's happening is they're up skilling the people in our economy so that we're actually growing the whole pie.
"And, in fact, we're basically creating a whole new industry of innovation and creative jobs,” she said. “It's incredible.”
Ms Kelly also claimed Hollywood producers might seek more concessions from the New Zealand government under the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
“What's at stake here, for example, is there may be very much restricted use of the internet as these Hollywood producers try to protect their intellectual property,” she said.
“We've already seen that the interests of some of large corporates are not the same as New Zealand citizens, and they have to be balanced.”
Long-time anti TPP campaigner and University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey was critical of the secrecy surrounding the TPP proposal.
“What we're seeing now are sets of rules that Hollywood wants that would make it virtually impossible to engage in many of the innovative industries and practices on the internet, and it would turn ISPs into effective police of the internet, on behalf of Hollywood,” she said.
But TPP proponent and executive director of the US-NZ Council, Stephen Jacobi, suggested that Professor Kelsey’s concerns might be misplaced.
“Just because the Americans are advancing certain matters in the context of the negotiation doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be accepted,” he said.
“I'm quite sure New Zealand will be able to maintain things that it agrees or believes need to be maintained in the course of this negotiation.”