Key massages Hobbit figures | The Jackal

15 Jan 2013

Key massages Hobbit figures

Today, Stuff reported:

Prime Minister John Key has defended the number of jobs he claimed The Hobbit films created - after NZ First leader Winston Peters said the 3000 figure was "plucked out of thin air".

In November, Key said filming The Hobbit movies in New Zealand created about 3000 jobs.


Weeks later Key was quoted as saying, "We think around 3000 people have been employed because of The Hobbit". He used the figure to justify massive subsidies the film-makers received.

Yesterday, Peters said the 3000 jobs figure had been "plucked out of thin air" and no-one in the prime minister's office knew how many jobs would be created when the subsidies were signed off.

"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."

I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately the article by Kate Chapman is a bit weak in terms of highlighting just how disingenuous the government is being.

Eddie over at The Standard clarifies:

Even if we pretend that 3,000 is the right number, $67m for 3,000 jobs is $22,000 per job. That’s more than the income tax revenue that the government gets in two years from the average full-time job. And that’s the kicker. These jobs didn’t last two years – not most of them. Most of the work on the Hobbit was short-term. The entire production was done in a little over a year. The extras and minor parts played by Kiwis were a few days or weeks. There’s a huge bloody difference between a 3,000 jobs that last a couple of weeks on average and creating real, lasting work.

So even if the over-inflated 3000 jobs is correct, it would have been better for the tax-payer if the Hobbit wasn't made in New Zealand at all. We would've lost that feel good feeling of being proud our little country could make such blockbuster movies here, but we would also have been $67 million better off at a time that the government is struggling financially.

$67 million would go a long way in today's climate, and personally I would rather see that money going towards keeping some woman's refuge centres open and feeding more kids in schools… The government might even be able to start a healthy homes policy to reduce ill health, particularly in low decile areas. Those are much more admirable achievements than simply making Peter Jackson and Warner Brothers richer.

Being that the main changes to workers rights that caused all the problems was so that more non-unionised contractors could be used, many of these contractors would only be working for a week or days if not less and counting all these people is entirely incorrect.

It's the same tactic National use to try and justify their job figures, whereby part time workers are counted while more full time jobs have actually been lost. I guess expecting honesty from John Key and his ugly bunch of honchos is too much to expect.