Red Alert

Archive for the ‘Hobbit’ Category

Money talks

Posted by on April 27th, 2012

Today we learn that the government caved into another demand from Sir Peter Jackson and Warner Bros which involved bending immigration rules in their favour.

In 2010, Peter Jackson told Government Ministers that Warners were worried about our employment law, because the distinction between “contractors” and “employees” established five years earlier in the Bryson case required employers to treat him as an employee.

Bryson was not an actor, yet we changed the law because Warners said so and in doing so, removed rights for a whole category of workers.

Turns out, it was just one of their demands.

Official Information finally released, shows that the government was only too happy to fall into line with other concerns, such as the alleged visa “blockages” for overseas performers.

And hey presto : changes have been made. And they don’t only apply to actors – they apply to everyone working in the industry.

I seem to recall John Key saying this was about New Zealand jobs.

But secret deals in immigration processes like this completely undermine our immigration systems and are unfair to Kiwi workers.

The integrity of our immigration system stands or falls on transparency, but this latest revelation adds to a trend of giving privileges to the better off and a willingness to bend the rules when money is involved.

Update: You can view the OIA request here.

Bring down the curtain

Posted by on September 23rd, 2011

There appears to be an on-going vendetta against workers in New Zealand’s entertainment industry.

Sure, the NActs are happy to line up beside local artists at events like the Rugby World Cup, but their actions are spelling doom for many of our most talented.

First, there was the decree from on high that all NZ entertainment workers are “contractors” and have no right to challenge their status under New Zealand law. There was the shameful spectacle of our government depriving New Zealand workers of rights in order to bow to Warners and Co., along with the ugly denunciation of anyone who dared speak out against this move as “hobbit-haters”.

Now, Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced that New Zealand has cleared the way for overseas actors and musicians to come here whenever they feel like it, even if it’s at the expense of New Zealand entertainment workers. His policy changes mean that those representing actors, musicians and other entertainment workers no longer have to be consulted when overseas acts want to come here. Understandably, the Screen Directors Guild of NZ is expressing concern about the implications of the moves to alter the process for the entry of temporary entertainment industry workers into New Zealand. They say it is potentially damaging to the local screen and entertainment industries.

My old union, the Musicians’ Union did its best to promote New Zealand music, but they never stood in the way of overseas performances unless it meant New Zealand musos would be disadvantaged. It was their job to stand up for New Zealand talent and they did it responsibly.

Labour’s spokesperson for Immigration, Ruth Dyson, and Arts and Culture spokesperson Steve Chadwick say the change could mean that roles in local productions could be filled with overseas performers and that these pressures, along with strife in Public Broadcasting and local playhouses, such as Downstage, put at risk many New Zealand careers.

John Key’s justification for changing the laws around the Hobbit was to protect New Zealand jobs, yet his Minister of Immigration has opened the door for all and sundry.

Our proud record of cultivating NZ identity through the Arts, fostered under the leadership of Helen Clark, is faltering.

Who hates who now?

That woman

Posted by on September 16th, 2011

I’m talking about Frances Walsh. The so-called “hobbit-hating woman”, who dared to stand up for her members in MEAA when Mr Warner Bros and his hired guns came to town last year to attack New Zealand’s sovereignty and labour laws, in the name of “jobs”.  Our  feeble government wooed Warner Bros, along with Peter Jackson and Co with big limos and flash hospitality and then did the ultimate sell-out by amending labour laws to ensure film and video production workers don’t have the right to challenge their status as employees under our labour law.

That woman, who along with Helen Kelly, CTU President, became the target of the worst case of New Zealand union-phobia we’ve seen in a decade.  That woman, who has a distinguished career as a journalist, and who has now published a quite wonderful book, called “Inside Stories” – a history of the New Zealand Housewife 1890 – 1975.

Walsh’s book takes a look at the artistic, cultural and historical role of women in New Zealand. It’s a reminder of the stereotypes of women I grew up with and fought against, and the struggle of the right to vote in the late 1890’s through to 1975, when modern feminism asserted the right to sexual and reproductive freedom.

It’s an artistic romp through women’s magazines and their reflection on a women’s place and a political commentary on how far women in New Zealand have come – and have yet to go.

The book is beautifully illustrated with cartoons, advertisements, colours and wallpapers of the eras.  I bought it willingly, because I think it’s one not just to read, but to keep. But I also bought it in honour of Frances’ role as a trade unionist – sticking up for a whole bunch of workers, who may seem by many to be privileged because they work in an industry that is on the surface glamorous and adventurous, but has underneath, a whole lot of problems and issue. The National Government turned their back on them last year when they sidled up to Warner Bros and did the indecent thing, selling out a whole category of workers and giving a message that this is in store for any other group who dare stand up for their rights.

Well done Frances. And all women like her.

Sometimes the spin isn’t enough #2

Posted by on July 24th, 2011

John Key tacked on a visit to LA to have dinner with Warner Bros execs last week. It was a much hyped meeting. Talk is of more movie deals coming our way.

Funny that just a few weeks before there were some top Warner Bros execs in Wellington having dinner at which there was reportedly much rubbing of hands with glee and exclamations about “how well they’d screwed those New Zealanders.”

Wonder what John Keys has promised Warners this time.