Gower on The Hobbit

TV3’s Patrick Gower 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 Hobbit.

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.

Comments (49)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment