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NZ actors to rally against secretive TPPA

Equity New Zealand Press Statement
27 March 2014
4:30pm

Equity New Zealand will join unions, community organisations, academics, creatives and students in co-sponsoring the national Day of Action to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement thisSaturday, 29 March.

Equity vice-presidents Jeff Szusterman and Todd Rippon will speak at rallies in Auckland and Wellington on Saturday.

'It is sometimes difficult to make the link between the arcane negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement and our everyday lives. But of all sectors in the New Zealand economy, the film and television industry (upon which performers livelihoods depend) has been one of the most impacted by the whims of trade policy,' says Szusterman.

On Saturday both Szusterman and Rippon will speak of the devastating impact on the audio visual industry when the then Bolger National Government made commitments to open New Zealand screens up to imported content, under the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1994.

'From a performers' perspective, the Bolger government's decision forever hamstrung our ability to tell our own stories. It has also led to a sector that will never have the critical mass it requires to build sustainable careers,' says Rippon.

Although New Zealand performers welcome the opportunities that come with big-budget foreign productions shooting in New Zealand, the local film and TV industry also needs to be self-sustaining.

'Our film industry is one now dependent upon the whims of overseas production executives, the ever-fluctuating exchange rate and the pool of scripted material that requires the Kaikoura Ranges to double for the Swiss Alps or the Rockies. This reliance is clearly demonstrated by our Government's recent courtship of Hollywood - its willingness to alter employment laws to suit foreign studios, its eagerness to change immigration regulations to assist overseas producers and its readiness to provide one off cash incentives to the studios on request' said Szusterman.

Equity believes that government should reject the secretive TPPA because it will allow the US to get total market access for their film and television output while NZ performers are pushed off the screen.

'In every step since either through the WTO or bilateral and trilateral agreements, the US have wilfully ignored local interests in sustaining a local audiovisual culture to ensure total market access for their film and television output. It is clear that the US is continuing to push the same agenda and more in the TPPA - essentially multilaterising the concessions it has won over the past few years' said Rippon.

NZ performers including Don McGlashan, Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Russell Brown, Michele A'Court, Julia Deans, Moana Maniapoto, Michael Hurst, Willy Jackson, Te Radar and Simon Prast have already spoken out against the TPPA in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61tDQBKpCdU&feature=youtu.be

ENDS

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