Gower on The Hobbit

October 28th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

TV3’s blogs:

The union movement has cost the taxpayer $34 million. It’s that simple. That’s what the Government had to pay out to keep .

The unions have also given the Government room to ram through a law change that will seriously weaken their position – whoops!

The unions were so far off the mark they even caused what were essentially anti-union marches, on Labour Day of all days.

And the unions have written a script that says: “John Key saves the day for New Zealand from the nasty unions”. That seriously undermines their credibility – what a shocker. It also strengthens the hand of Key – who the unions have been targeting.

This all adds up to give a new meaning to the word “perverse outcome”.

It’s the most incompetent political or industrial action for some years.

There’s been a lot of talk about this Hobbit business.

It’s best to stick to the facts.

There was no problem with The Hobbit until the unions kicked off.

The facts are, that on August 17 the international actor’s union threatened to boycott the Hobbit on behalf of the New Zealand actors.

That’s huge.

And this makes the claims of the New Zealand actors that “we just wanted to get in the room” with Peter Jackson look totally disingenuous and misleading.

The letter shows they wanted far more than that – collective bargaining that would change the industry permanently – and that’s not Jackson’s role.

Once industrial relations get to the point of a threatened boycott, you can’t just sit down and have a chat. Every word, every action matters.

In Jackson’s words, the unions had a gun to his head.

A few conspiracy nuts are convinced that Warners would have tried to move the films anyway, even if the global boycott had never been instituted. Their problem is they have not one grain of proof – and nor do they have a precedent they can point to.

And in a scene more reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino than Peter Jackson, Warner Bros turned up with an even bigger gun and put it to New Zealand’s head.

Warners said, take your gun away – and give us all your money.

It’s like that scene from Crocodile Dundee where he says, as he is threatened with a pocket knife “That’s not a knife, this is a knife” as he pulls out his blade.

The Aussie union saw Peter Jackson as a light touch whom they could bully, and they forgot that the ultimate decisions are not made by Jackson, but by the studios.

But the conspiracy theory advanced by unions that Jackson and Warners set this all up to get some cash out of the government is just ridiculous.

There is just no way to engineer something like this.

If Jackson did manage to engineer al this, then his talents are being wasted. He should be in charge of black operations for the CIA.

John Key, Gerry Brownlee and company have done a good job negotiating against Warners who sources have told me were ruthless in there.

Key and Brownlee would be as unhappy about having to pander to Warner Bros as the next Kiwi.

They just did what was needed to keep the movies here.

They’ve tacked on some good spin-offs for New Zealand on the tourism front.

Imagine the power of having a “Visit New Zealand” segment on every Hobbit DVD. That is massive.

The unions and the left have been looking for something to nail Key with, and make them relevant again. A grassroots union revival like what happened with John Howard’s “work choices” policy in Australia.

They got so desperate, that they got star-struck when the actors’ issue came along. They thought it could launch unions back into the spotlight via their popular actor friends.

But all they’ve done is make their target, Key, even more popular.

It was a flop.

The best scripts are simple.

And this one says: John Key winner, Unions losers.

And now we have union vs union in Mana.

What I have also found interesting is how much coverage the possible loss got overseas. A reader in the UK e-mails:

Just to let you know the pro-Hobbit rallies made the main bulletin of Channel 4 news over here tonight. The coverage was entirely positive and featured Richard Taylor speaking at the rally.

Very much focussed on the natural beauty of NZ and how that was central to the heart of the film – and then highlighted a pole showing NZ’ers rejecting the unions. Some pompous twat from the UK union said his piece and was wholly unconvincing.

Not an epic piece – but worth relaying to the rally organisers that their efforts had global reach. Well done to them!

And got a text from a friend in the US telling me that a couple of taxi drivers and a waitress all raised the Hobbit issue with her unprompted, when they realised she is from NZ.

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49 Responses to “Gower on The Hobbit”

  1. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    A very good outcome for NZ, given the threat. Gower is spot on, the unions have reduced our economic benefits by $34 million, no two ways about it.

    Labour+Greens=Unions. Remember The Hobbit

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  2. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    The CTU were only endeavouring to carry out their (HK) policy of government destabilisation. They thought that the atom bomb was the right weapon to lob, given that they had engaged in small arms fire for quite a few months now, with a series of attacks from different sectors. Fortunately the atom bomb was designed by an inadequate designer and blew up in the CTU’s & Robyn Malcolm’s face. (by the way where is Jennifer?).

    We should remember that the union movement has had the luxury of 9 years under a very friendly govt, and they just got too big for their boots, in their haste to attack John Key.

    @RightNow, Labour+Greens=Unions. Remember the Hobbit? You bet I and many many others will.

    The use of normal card carrying members as pawns will not be forgotten either I can assure you.
    No amount of waa waa spin can save this situation, Joe & Jill Blow have long memories.

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  3. Jack5 (5,145 comments) says:

    The NZ film industry would not survive without tax breaks and subsidies.

    National is every bit as much into handing out industry subsidies as Labour. Both are centre-leftist enthusiasts for and practitioners of dirigisme.

    With politicians this thick hogging the centre of the political bell curve, NZ has little chance of halting its slide into the Third World.

    Joining Australia is our only real economic hope, IMHO. Fuck the hobbits.

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  4. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Only in NZ could you get popular anti-union rallies on labour day.

    Sweet.

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  5. Nigel (517 comments) says:

    I don’t think it was a good outcome for anyone to be honest.

    Unions – Total disaster, reduced influence in public & govt by a major amount.
    NZ – reduced credibility, we came across as soft, sure JK & co restored some credibility, but it was damage control at that stage.
    Govt – had to give concessions to Warners above what would have otherwise been negotiated & effectively pushed into labour law changes.
    JK – looking a little like he’s slow to get on top of issues, could be those around him, but I think after party central in auckland, mining debacle and now this, they should be really doing a serious debrief on how these issues are spiraling out of control, they got lucky this time, luck won’t always be on their side.
    WETA/Jackson – the stability question marks will take time to recover from.
    Warners – I doubt they are happy at having to negotiate so openly.
    Fran Welsh ( not PJ’s wife ) – less said the better, should be deported.

    To be fair though, the contractor/employee issue was always going to be a problem & someone in govt should have their ass kicked extremely hard for not sorting it out well before now, that was Warners major issue, the stupidity of the unions was the side show.

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  6. Paulus (2,658 comments) says:

    Where is the real silent Goofy – his parrot Mallard is shooting his mouth off, which is actually close in between his legs.

    No the New Zealand one, not Warner’s one, which we accept for the last 50 years is a just foolish fellow?

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  7. SteveO (76 comments) says:

    Pedant’s corner: Mick’s response was not the “this is a knife” that is so commonly quoted, rather he replied “THAT’s a knife”.

    How this adds to the debate I cannot tell but I’m sure there must be a moral in there somewhere.

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  8. Minnie (98 comments) says:

    “It was a flop.

    The best scripts are simple.

    And this one says: John Key winner, Unions losers.”

    Worse than a flop, it made the union movement in general, and a number of high (ish) profile people who initiated and fronted and continue to try to justify this silliness look like opinionated dickheads of the month. And now they try to portray the necessary deal as New Zealand getting rogered by corporate America. Unbelievable.

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  9. jaba (2,146 comments) says:

    still in catch up mode after 6 nights in hospital and just hear the news .. can’t wait to see H Kelly and Goff on telly.
    by the way .. people are saying the Govt are giving tax breaks/concessions to Warner’s .. does that mean we taxpayers are paying Warner’s money or that we are not getting as much tax from them as we could. If the formers then I would be concerned, if the later then so what?

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  10. tvb (4,494 comments) says:

    I like the reference to Howard’s work choices which revitalised the Union movement. Work Choices may have been “a bridge too far”. John Key has taken a subtler approach to the point when the Unions are going to be ring fenced out of the movie and television industry with other industries asking for their turn as well. John Key has been subtle here too. He has kept the amendment narrow and said he will look at broadening the exemption later when the dust settles. This is a very nuanced approach. John Key is winning the propaganda war though he has to leave the country quite soon and they may let the Helen Kelly in. No doubt she will be spinning furiously but her job may now be on the line over this. But she is a formidable target – attractive personable, female but I think John is the right man to deal with her. Imagine Muldoon handling this or even Bolger.

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  11. alex Masterley (1,523 comments) says:

    Lofty,
    I recall reading somewhere that Ms Malcolm is now based in Sydney.
    Jennifer is no doubt some-where in Grey Lynn contemplating a latte and waiting for her agent to ring with a nice juciy part in the hobbitt. No – er wait a moment, having re-read the hobbitt last week there are no major parts for women in the Hobbitt

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  12. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Theres no major parts for THOSE women at the very least alex.

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  13. James Stephenson (2,223 comments) says:

    can’t wait to see H Kelly and Goff on telly.

    Good luck with the latter…someone really needs to shop a red & white jumper and matching bobble hat onto Phil. Where is he on this?

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  14. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    I work for one of NZ’s top 10 (in size) companies. In a yesterday’s operations leadership meeting we were talking about how easy it is to screw your brand up. The phrase “the Robyn Malcolm effect” was used.

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  15. Gosman (324 comments) says:

    Has anyone taken up the challenge of trying to get the question “So what are Phil Goff’s views on this matter?” through moderation on Red Alert?

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  16. Jack5 (5,145 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero posted:

    …I work for one of NZ’s top 10 (in size) companies…

    Get any subsidies, does it, Superhero?

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  17. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    Nigel – I think you are spot on, no one has come out of this looking good.

    As much respect as I have for Peter Jackson I think he has used his one ‘cry wolf/get out of jail’ card on this and I don’t think the government or the public would be very tolerant of any future special tax deals being needed to get a movie made here in New Zealand.

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  18. Gosman (324 comments) says:

    Gordon Campbell has once again taken up the fight for the deluded over at Scoop. This time he seriously screws up his maths and thinks the deal is at the least costing Nz $25 million USD when that is the maximum amount. I told him it was a nice bit of spin on his part.

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  19. big bruv (14,132 comments) says:

    Has anybody seen Goff on TV since this all kicked off?

    He seems to be in hiding.

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  20. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    What has it got to do with Goff, big bruv? National are the government, it was up to them to fix the mess.

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  21. OliverI (112 comments) says:

    @DPF – you know you want one… :D

    http://www.mrvintage.co.nz/results.html?q=ONE+KEY

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  22. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Oh come on YesWeDid, pull the other one.

    Labour backs and supports the CTU attack on the govt, you know it and so do all NZ’rs.

    When their mates in the trenches threw a dirty bomb that left them all covered in cinders, Goff and his party have abandoned the cause, very quickly.

    Goff to the Muss……… I will piss off to Aussie mate, you hold the fort on this one and fire lies around to deflect our involvment in this whole shit sandwich.

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  23. Right of way is Way of Right (1,122 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero (119) Says:

    October 28th, 2010 at 1:46 pm
    I work for one of NZ’s top 10 (in size) companies. In a yesterday’s operations leadership meeting we were talking about how easy it is to screw your brand up. The phrase “the Robyn Malcolm effect” was used.

    That’s going straight in the book of handy catchphrases!

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  24. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    I see some rights issues with that image and the text Oliver.

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  25. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    And fix up the mess yes they did! From the train wreck the unions made of this we end up in a very good position.

    John Key plays the hero, big smiles all round. Waves to the fans in the movie making crowd.
    Sir Peter Jackson gets to make his movies here, and retains local hero status.
    The unions cost NZ $34 million, nobody is going to forget that.
    In the next few years we’ll be playing ‘Spot Robyn Malcolm’ on NZ TV. Even Phil Goff will get more air time than her.
    Next year’s election will hand a thrashing to Labour and Greens, and “Remember the Hobbit” will become a common refrain whenever there is bullshit peddled from the lefties.

    We will not be dragged down to mediocrity by the envy and spite of the left.

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  26. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    I seem to have missed this story in all the hooha.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10682887

    The unions fed Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Leyland to the wolves…

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  27. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Only in NZ could you get popular anti-union rallies on labour day.

    Why not? The Unions have shown that they have absolutely nothing to do with protecting workers rights anymore – all they are is another faction of the Labour party. They have nothing in common with the original labour movement or the 19th century.

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  28. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Where is the real silent Goofy – his parrot Mallard is shooting his mouth off, which is actually close in between his legs.

    No the New Zealand one, not Warner’s one, which we accept for the last 50 years is a just foolish fellow?

    Goofy is a Disney creation, not a Warner’s one.

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  29. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Just as a matter of interest, what percentage of workers are in unions. If you take out the public service unions (who should all be banned) how many are left?

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  30. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Bevan,

    “Goofy is a Disney creation, not a Warner’s one.”

    That is very good – it’s going straight to the pool room

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  31. GerryandthePM (328 comments) says:

    What would Goff have done?

    Ask Andrew “fourth week” Little. (For the corrected version)

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  32. James (1,338 comments) says:

    # YesWeDid

    As much respect as I have for Peter Jackson I think he has used his one ‘cry wolf/get out of jail’ card on this and I don’t think the government or the public would be very tolerant of any future special tax deals being needed to get a movie made here in New Zealand.

    What…? So offering a few million dollars in tax breaks… (Thats when someone gets to keep a bit more of their OWN money from thieving State hands ) is a no go option in return for HUNDREDS of millions,if not a couple of BILLION dollars coming into our economy…..?!

    Did any of these fuckwits take maths at school…..anyone? THIS member of the public thinks this is fucking excellent and can we have a shitload more of it please!?

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  33. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Not PC nails it here…

    http://pc.blogspot.com/2010/10/subsidising-hobbit-enterprise-sounds.html

    But what they’re negotiating isn’t a “subsidy,” it’s a tax break. To describe a tax break as a “subsidy” is no more honest than to call what a burglar leaves behind a “gift.”

    It’s been objected that it makes no sense to offer tax breaks to get companies doing business here because there’ll be no revenue gain to the New Zealand Government. Anyone saying this is more dumb than they look. If companies come here and pay no tax at all every single person in New Zealand will still be richer by to the extent of the capital they do invest here, and by the jobs and wealth they create. And the extent they’re not stolen from by the tax man is the greater extent to which they’ll actually be able to create new wealth.

    The objection to that I heard voiced this afternoon is that if Warners, or other foreign companies get a big tax break like this, then pretty soon every company thinking about working here will be wanting them.

    And why wouldn’t they? Hell, even the numb nuts who object to any tax breaks being offered at all at least recognise it will make the company more profitable.

    But since the reason everyone will be wanting them is because it will make them that much more productive (especially if they can re-invest here without fear or new impositions by the grey ones) I don’t see the problem. Instead, I see potential.

    What I suggest is that the New Zealand Government actually embrace this idea. Recognise that every company would like to be free of such restrictions, and embrace the idea for everyone, not just for Warners.

    Exactly….wake up Mr Key…

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  34. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    @James – I have no idea what point you are trying to make and yes I took maths at school (and university).

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  35. Jack5 (5,145 comments) says:

    The post by James at 4.23 linking to someone who denies that a tax discount is a subsidy is another example of Nats trying to square the circle by supporting state aid for picked industries while at the same time remaining free-enterprisers. Bloody leftists!

    A tax break to an industry is a gift, a handout. But here are some authoritative definitions of “subsidy” –

    Investopedia:

    A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction.

    Shorter Oxford Dictionary (first):

    Help, aid, assistance; an instance of this

    Collins Dictionary of Business:

    The provision of finance and other resources by the government or a firm to support a business activity of person. Subsidies can be direct (cash grants, interest-free loans etc) or indirect (depreciation write-offs, rent rebates) and can be used for a variety of purposes.

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  36. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    @Yeswedid @James – I have no idea what point you are trying to make and yes I took maths at school (and university).

    Yeah, well you’ve shown that you really suck at economics.

    @James 4:23pm: That is an extremely interesting viewpoint proposed, and is a debate that needs to be had. Mind you I can just imagine the howling from Labour.

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  37. DJP6-25 (1,389 comments) says:

    [Minnie 1:26] So where’s the downside? -:)

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  38. DJP6-25 (1,389 comments) says:

    [Yes We Did 1:55] Could be something to do with Labour [Remember them?] being the parliamentary arm of the Union movement I guess.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  39. jackp (668 comments) says:

    IN a time of recession, perhaps people will get smart with the lefties.. after all wasn’t it Labour that paid 600 million for a train set that was only worth half that and will cost us about a billion to get it going? Now they are complaining about the 35 million which will bring in 500 million. Lefties just don’t get it, do they… keep stumbling over their dicks.

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  40. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    Who else wishes John Key had done the negotiations when the government bought back the railways?

    [DPF: Someone who was inside the room commented that they can now see how the PM made his millions – he is a very sharp commercial negotiator]

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  41. adze (2,129 comments) says:

    Me! Definitely… we were raped far more viciously by the various foreign train companies than Warners.

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  42. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Being an even handed fellow, Mr Farrar will also write blogs entitled:

    John Armstrong on The Hobbit

    Gorrdon Campbell on The Hobbit

    NZ Herald on the Hobbitg.

    When the Nats own newspaper says we paid far too much simply to keep a film here……..hmmm

    Key a sharp negotiator, always using someone else’s money.

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  43. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Maggie,

    Let’s talk about OPM – Other Peoples’ Money – shall we? Who spent at least twice as much as real value buying a train set? Who left the country in the lurch to the tune of $250m per week of OPM?

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  44. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Throw in John Drinnan at the Herald as well…..

    Quick, bhudson, change the subject, this one is embarassing. Toss in a red herring.

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  45. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Maggie,

    Red herring? Where is the red herring in the recorded expenditure of the Labour govt? Does it not count if it is spent left of centre?

    Drinnan??? I’ve just read it. There is zero evidence there to disprove in any degree the facts outlined time and again for this hobbit saga. There is a great deal of speculation and innuendo, strung together with some historical LBF tax breaks which he selectively stitches together to try and concoct a story.

    Maggie, if there was an ounce of possible truth to it, Drinnan would actually level an accusation. He doesn’t. And the reason he doesn’t is because he can’t establish evidence for anything and to accuse would only end him and The Herald in court.

    Maggie – Drinnan’s article is the only red herring here. It is about as evidential an expose as if I were to state “Michael Cullen paid twice as much for his train set as he should have so that does raise a question of maybe he received $100m back from the seller as a kickback – the numbers support it.”

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  46. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    “Key a sharp negotiator, always using someone else’s money.”

    Well I’m just going to call you a liar Maggie. The notion that Key has never negotiated a purchase out of his own pocket in his life is, well, I guess about your level of intelligence. You’re full of bile.

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  47. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Really, RightNow?

    What did he buy, a washing machine or a fridge?

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  48. jaba (2,146 comments) says:

    “Key a sharp negotiator, always using someone else’s money.”
    that must be one of the stupidest statement I have ever heard .. all Govts (PM’s) spend other peoples money .. what sort of moron are you “maggie”

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