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NZ Actors Equity welcomes latest document release

26/02/2013

NZ Actors Equity welcomes latest Official Information Act document release

NZ Actors Equity welcomes the release of further Hobbit related documents, which cast significant light on the government’s drastic changes to NZ employment law.

The documents confirmed that NZ Actors Equity’s attempt to secure fair wages and conditions for Hobbit employees did not jeopardise the film’s production in New Zealand. In an email to the government on October 18, 2010 Peter Jackson wrote, "There is no connection between the blacklist (and its eventual retraction), and the choice of production base for the Hobbit."

It is clear from the documents that the producers and the government chose not to disclose this information to the public, despite NZ Equity agreeing with Warner Bros request to stay silent and allow WB the right to make the public announcement. Instead the producers arranged protests against Equity, which resulted in the government offering large financial concessions to Warner Bros. and introducing new legislation that undermines workers’ rights in New Zealand.

The information released today also reveals that the government advised the producers of The Hobbit that no legislative amendments to the employment laws were required. Nevertheless the government went ahead and changed the law following intense lobbying by the producers.

Further, the documents demonstrate that despite loud protestations about New Zealand’s immigration process and the consultation role, the producers were all too willing to shift the production to New South Wales, Australia, where importation rules are even stricter than those in New Zealand.

NZ Actors Equity rejects allegations, raised in the documents, that its consultation role under the immigration laws caused delays on this or any other production. The fulfillment of our role under Immigration NZ regulations was always within the time period allotted and was conducted professionally and efficiently. There is not one instance where an overseas production has pulled out of shooting in New Zealand because of our consultative role.

The immigration process that had been in place for decades was there to ensure that New Zealand performers were provided with reasonable opportunities to work on all film and television productions. The new watered-down immigration process, introduced after the Hobbit dispute, provides carte blanche for productions to engage non-New Zealand performers for any role.

New Zealand Actors Equity represents the vast majority of New Zealand's professional actors with over 600 New Zealand members.
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