A local political blog, No Right Turn, which is written by a friend of mine, Idiot/Savant, has unfortunately been a classic example of how the recent Hobbit dispute has been exploited by people who know very little about the issues but have tried to use the dispute to forward their own political agenda.

There has been a lot of dishonest hyperbole being spread around about what happened and is happening. Some, like Idiot, don’t comprehend the money and work that was at risk here and betray very little understanding of the industry and how it has been operating for decades.

All they see are things in the terms of their own political lenses without doing any proper research.

Now I do agree that a law change under urgency is rarely a good thing and it raises concerns. But I also have read the amendment and researched what other more learned legal minds have said of it and all it achieves is closing a loophole that was recently exploited and should have been closed two years ago.

It isn’t actually taking away any rights. Actors, crew and others involved in film making have always been considered independent contractors. This is due to films being quixotic things and you can end up working for a different production company each time. Sick days and Holidays are not feasible in film productions as a matter of book keeping. Instead individual companies will manage these issues as best suits the production and can outline this in the contracts.

The Amendment is merely stating that unless the contract clearly identifies the actor/technician as an employee they are considered an independent contractor.

This has always been the case. It is just now being clearly outlined in law.

Another myth being spouted is that this is just two films. A wonderful lie that allows those who like their conspiracies to be able to belittle and dismiss this dispute as just children fighting.

It’s two films that cost the equivalent of close to 100 NZ made local films. That is in excess of $500m and thousands of jobs. The films will take at least three months to film, bringing cast and foreign crew into the country many of whom will be bringing family or partners – most of whom will be paying for accommodation, food, travel… all of which will be generating tax income via GST.

Furthermore, being made in NZ means that Tax is charged on any income they earn in the country from an NZ based production company.

Which comes to the next dishonest lie being spouted by the critics. The tax break isn’t money paid to the production company. It is money taken off the total tax bill they get charged. That’s right. It’s a percentage off the total tax bill. So if the break is round 25% and we are being told this comes to approx $60m – that means that NZ is looking at around $180m TAX being put back into govt coffers approx. That is not chump change people. Of course my figures are speculatory, but we are looking at over $100m in taxes.

This isn’t even beginning to go into the othe trickle down benefits. As a much more educated economist than I pointed out, this is one of those investments with guaranteed return for a country. It doesn’t matter if the film is a success or not – we get the money.

Then there is the world premiere. Another thing overlooked by the people in a blind rush to scream bloody murder at the bourgeois film makers. Premieres draw crowds, tourists and raise profile. A world premiere in NZ draws other film companies’ attention towards the country.

They aren’t going to see us as a soft touch to shake down. They are going to see a nation committed to helping them make good films and in a proper mutually beneficial relationship.

The Hobbit is a major investment that can only benefit our country in a time when economies are suffering. If they were just two films, why were countries with better GDPs than ours clamouring to offer even more than our final deal was so that they could get these two films.

Because these countries know the true value monetary wise than a group of bloggers who can’t see past their Intro to Political Theory 101 papers.

I personally think that John Key screwed up this dispute by not stepping in sooner. I also think that this would never had happened if the unions hadn’t been so dishonest, naive and inept in their handling of the dispute.

I have no doubt that Warner exploited the situation as did National. But those who are taking shots at National now and ignoring that the MEAA were the instigators – because it is hard to have far left indignation if the unions are to blame – are being just as exploitative.

In regards to the death threats and “thuggery” – again, reality is getting in the way of the righteous indignation.

As video has shown, Actor’s Equity were not being threatened by protestors at the locations of these meetings. The death threats have not been confirmed by police yet as being connected to those protests either.

It is a very serious matter when death threats are involved and Police do not make a habit of claiming anything beyond that the threat was made until they has investigated the calls. I choose to take the same approach. I have no doubt there were threats made – disputes like this always bring out those who exploit the strife by making such calls – but I will not bow to lazy uninformed hyperbole and accuse protesting film crews of thuggery when there is no evidence to support that accusation at this point in time.

Blogs like No Right Turn need to stop taking the easy route, stop exploiting others in the pursuit of “democracy” and actually do some more fact gathering before making accusations.

Conan

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