Written By: - Date published: 11:10 am, October 8th, 2012 - 76 comments
Categories: business, copyright, culture, economy, film, International, internet, jobs, john key, overseas investment, tv, workers' rights - Tags: john key, workers' rights
We have another u-turn from slippery John Key after his trip to Hollywood. First he said he wasn’t going to offer sweeteners, now it seems they are on the table. There are many potential advantages for New Zealand and its screen,and digital industries from attracting Hollywood productions to NZ. However, most of the reports, commentaries and background information point to a further push by major, US-based corporates to extend their dominance internationally, in support of their own interests, power and values.
Coverage on TV3’s The Nation yesterday, highlighted most of the relevant issues, especially in the Rachel Smalley’s interviews with Jane Kelsey (University of Auckland Law School), Helen Kelly (CTU president), Jo Coughlan (Wellington City Councillor), and Stephen Jacobi ( NZ US Council Executive Director).
As Helen Kelly said, there are many things to be celebrated about bringing international screen productions here. It is some of the elements that are being incorporated into the latest rounds of relevant negotiations that are causing concern. She says:
We’ve just seen Weta apply to bring 400 foreign workers in to do some core jobs in the industry that they should be training and giving to New Zealanders. We’ve seen the Employment Law change, basically removing all employment rights for workers in the film industry, and we’re seeing the secrecy.
And Kelly added:
And the other thing is that we are seeing jobs in this country going out the window all over the place. And why is the government also not putting the time and energy into looking into those industries? Over 100,000 jobs in manufacturing. Why isn’t the government looking at those as well? Why aren’t they for example spending six million, allowing Kiwi Rail to make our trains here. Long term engineering, building, fabrication jobs?
These are some of the relevant concerns:
The importing of foreign workers to do jobs New Zealanders could do.
It’s fine if they upskill New Zealanders to do the jobs in the future, but there are concerns this is not happening.
What kind of jobs are being opened up to New Zealanders? It seems to me that a lot of the work are in technical jobs, but a lot of the more powerful creative and production jobs are being done by visitors from overseas. For instance the jobs for Kiwis that Jo Coughlan particularly refers to are electricians, labourers, caterers, designers and seamstresses. Very important jobs, with many being highly skilled, but not ones with a lot of power/control.
In addition to the above concern, Hollywood productions tend to promote US culture and values.
In contrast, there is a need for locally made productions that ensure New Zealanders can have some input on topics, values and stories that are important to us. For instance, Sir Peter Jackson has had the clout to be able to use his own Kiwi scriptwriters on his films, but on other productions, especially TV fiction, the Hollywood screenwriters guild has exerted far more power. This can be seen on TV productions like Xena, Hercules and Spartacus. John Key is looking to encourage more US TV productions in New Zealand.
For TV drama series, it is the producers and writers who determine the creative direction of the show. Certainly Pacific Renaissance (Xena, Hercules) and Starz productions (Spartacus) increasingly used local directors but not NZ scriptwriters. (Although such productions have created more long-term work for New Zealanders than Jackson’s movies, providing many with new career opportunities.)
Hollywood producers international control over copyright, and intellectual property (TPPA issues).
There are very real concerns about big US-based film and media conglomerates, along with related investment and financial companies, attempts to extend their hold over digital copyright laws. This is being done in ways that will promote their own interests, and restrict the international promotion of Kiwi creativity. This is a significant part of the current TPPA negotiations being conducted in secret.
Helen Kelly says:
No they’re not transparent, and what’s at stake here, it is very complicated, but what’s at stake here for example is there may be very much restricted use of the internet as these Hollywood producers try to protect their intellectual property which is one interest, but as New Zealanders perhaps in smaller film industry and creative industries want to use the internet to promote New Zealand culture and New Zealand industry.
And Jane Kelsey says something similar:
What’s we’re seeing now are sets of rules that Hollywood wants that would make it virtually impossible to engage in many of the innovative industries and practices on the internet, and it would turn ISPs into effective police of the internet, on behalf of Hollywood.