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Labour rejects Hobbit hypocrisy

Tuesday 27 Nov 2012 11:45 a.m.

David Shearer

David Shearer

Three Labour MPs who opposed extra tax breaks and labour law changes to make the Hobbit films in New Zealand will attend the film's premiere.

Labour leader David Shearer, his deputy Grant Robertson and senior MP Annette King have accepted invitations to the red-carpet event in Wellington on Wednesday.

That's despite Labour's opposition to a 2010 law change to stop independent contractors claiming entitlements as employees and an extra $13 million marketing subsidy and $20m tax break to stop the films' production moving offshore.

Mr Shearer says he doesn't see why attending the premiere would be hypocritical.

"I'm proud that the film is being made in New Zealand ... We argued that pushing through the employment law as it was, under urgency, was the wrong thing to do. We still stand by that," he said.

"It's a debatable point whether the film wouldn't have been made here ... We've always supported the film industry being here in New Zealand."

Prime Minister John Key said "New Zealanders will judge that for themselves" whether Labour's attendance is hypocritical.

"The Government issued the invitations because we think this is a celebration for New Zealand, we thought that was the polite and appropriate thing to do. It was up to them whether they took it or not."

Mr Key says the tax breaks were worth it for the boost to employment and tourism New Zealand will reap from the film trilogy.

But he says the Government is unlikely to heed director Sir Peter Jackson's call to increase subsidies further to keep New Zealand's film industry competitive, although it is considering changes for television projects.

"We've got to back ourselves on the quality of people we have, the flexibility of our crews, the nature of our scenery and the capacity for us to produce world-class movies and I don't think getting into some bidding war would help us."


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