We all know, because that Nice Man Mr Key told us, the government can’t create jobs. That is, unless it has given away $67m to international bully boys and wants to show a return on investment. Then, it can create 3,000 jobs out of thin air. It turns out, that’s where the claim that the Hobbit films created 3,000 Kiwi jobs came from. But it gets worse.
The 3,000 jobs claimed was a figure pulled out of Key’s arse and confirmed only as a “good number” by Wingnut films – it seems $67m of taxpayer money brought a lot of goodwill and cooperation for National from Jackson. Nice to know that favours cut both ways.
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.
You’ll note that National has produced no figure on how much Kiwi workers earned as a result of the Hobbit. I don’t reckon it’ll be $67m, not when you consider how much of the budget would have been eaten up by the foreign stars’ pay-checks and the overseas made gear, all the admin work done stateside, and all foreign contractors that Jackson got in to work at Wingnut (incidentally, sending Miramar out of the affordable suburb range for locals looking to buy). The total cost of paying extras in major movies appears to often be less than a million or in the low millions.
But, whatever the truth of how many Kiwi jobs were created, for how long, and how much they were paid, always remember that the truth is these films were always going to be made here any way. All that happened was a failing movie company that was having financial difficulties decided to see if they could squeeze a little yokel government for some more money and cheaper production costs by removing workers’ rights. And, in finest tradition, when international capital said ‘jump’, National said ‘how high?’