The employment of 3000 people working on production of The Hobbit in Miramar is not enough to satisfy NZ First leader Winston Peters. In a statement today, he said the $67m subsidy for the Hobbit productions should be repaid now that the first film has grossed over $1billion in its world-wide release. And he questioned how many of the jobs will continue when production of The Hobbit has ended.
Mr Peters released a document dated October 2011 obtained under the Official Information Act. In the document, Wingnut Films responded to a request from the Prime Minister’s Office for an estimate of “the total number of people who will work on both Hobbit movies.” The answer from Wingnut:
3000 is a good number. We have 1000 on payroll at the studio, 1000 at Weta Digital, and nearing 1000 across Weta Workshop. Then of course there’s the flow-on. We’re about to take 700 people on the road for the next nine weeks. In terms of hotel/motel room nights and boosts to small-town economies (Matamata, Te Kuiti, Piopio, Ohakune, Twizel etc) that’s pretty huge.
Here’s Winston Peter’s statement:
New Zealand First has obtained documents from the Prime Minister’s office that show nobody has any idea how many jobs have been created by the $67million state subsidy for Warner Brothers and The Hobbit movies. Now the first movie has grossed more than $1 billion, Warner Brothers should repay the $67 million subsidy the movie moguls sucked from Kiwi taxpayers. The Government claims that filming The Hobbit in New Zealand created an extra 3000 jobs and this was value for money to taxpayers but documents from John Key’s office show this figure was plucked out of thin air.
Questions have to be answered about how many of these jobs existed prior to filming, how many of them will exist once the final film has premiered, and how many of these jobs actually went to New Zealanders.
There is no doubt now that the deal with the movie industry was more about lining pockets than creating jobs.
Struggling Kiwis who are being laid off work every week are right to ask the Government when they can expect the flow on effects of the $67million to reach them. Local industries would also be right to ask the Prime Minister how the film industry fat cats deserve millions of dollars in tax breaks because they are on a ‘worldwide playing field’, yet somehow that same logic does not apply to our manufacturing industry.
Warner Brothers should now do the decent thing and pay back the subsidies so local industries that create long term jobs get a fair deal.