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MEAA fisks Jackson tirade

Written By: - Date published: 8:19 pm, September 27th, 2010 - 50 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

There doesn’t seem to be much coverage of the MEAA’s side of the Hobbit boycott story but there’s a lot of Saint Peter Jackson’s side.

That’s why it’s interesting to see the union’s response appear on info news today.

By the looks of things Jackson has refused to deal with the union which represents Kiwi workers despite months of approaches. It also looks like when he said he dealt fairly with union members he was talking about the Screen Actors Guild members – an American union that could finish him if he went against it (so it looks like he’s only pro-union when it’s unions he can’t bully).

Anyway here’s Steve Colbard’s response to Jackson’s tirade:

The makers of feature film The Hobbit – to be shot in New Zealand next year – are refusing to engage performers on union-negotiated agreements.

Members of Canadian Actors Equity, US Actors Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, UK Actors Equity, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (Australia) and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists have been advised not to accept work on this non-union production.

Peter Jackson responded to the allegations about non-union contracts with a few “facts”.

Here

This article adds some of the facts he left out.

“Personally speaking, I’m not anti-Union in the slightest. I’m a very proud and loyal member of three Hollywood Unions – the Directors Guild, the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild. I support the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). All these organisations (I must confess I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between a “Guild” and a “Union”) do terrific work on behalf of their members.”

No-one ever suggested Peter or the producers were anti-union. The materials distributed by the actors unions to their members say nothing of the sort. They simply articulate the fact that the producers refuse to negotiate fair union contracts with them. Have a look. http://www.actorsequity.org.nz/hobbit_fact_sheet.pdf (Now moved to http://www.alliance.org.au/documents/hobbit_fact_sheet.pdf

“Many Actors are members of SAG, but many are not — especially younger actors and many Australian and New Zealand performers. MEAA claims we are “non-Union”, but whenever we hire an actor who belongs to SAG, we always honour their working conditions, their minimum salary agreements and their residuals.”

No claim has been made suggesting The Hobbit is non union – simply that the production is aiming to employ New Zealand performers on non-union contracts by refusing to negotiate with NZ Actor’s Equity.

“These residuals can be worth tens of thousands of dollars to an individual if the film is successful – however the normal situation is that if an actor is not a member of SAG, they do not share in the profit pot. This has always struck us as unfair, since most Kiwi actors are not lucky enough to be SAG members. For the Hobbit, Warner Brothers have agreed to create a separate pot of profit participation, which will be divided up amongst non-SAG actors who are cast in the film. This was not done because of any pressure from Guilds or Unions – it was actually Warners doing the decent thing, and New Zealand and Australian actors will be the principle beneficiaries. SAG members have their pot, and non-SAG members now have theirs. We have introduced the scheme to Kiwi agents and it’s now part of all our Hobbit cast deals.”

What the producers have offered is far below international standard of SAG and the distribution of these residuals is not clearly articulated in any contract used so far in NZ. These residuals are significantly less than the MEAA usual agreements in every respect. Kiwis will be paid less than anyone else who might be engaged to do the same work. Fair?

Also if Kiwi performers are contracted subject to the standing NZ guidelines the usual provisions of the New Zealand contract would apply. These include a provision which permit the producer to terminate the contract at any time without obligation to pay out the performer’s contract. This provision could also be used to justify non-payment of any residual obligation which may have been agreed above (even after the performer has performed all their work on the film and even if the performer’s work is used in the film).

This clause alone makes the residual offer above meaningless.

“Whatever damage MEAA is attempting to do — and it will do damage, since that’s their principal objective in targeting The Hobbit – we will continue to treat our actors and crew with respect, as we always have.”

However earlier films such as Lord of the Rings, international performers were protected by their unions and kiwis worked on contracts with conditions that were significantly lower than their international counterparts. In fact some of the Kiwis on the that film sued New Line over the money made from merchandising and it was settled out of court.

“As I said earlier, money and power lies behind this threatening behaviour from our Australian cousins, and to fully understand that, you simply have to step back and look at the greater picture in context. It starts with “NZ Actors Equity”. This is a tiny organisation that represents a small minority of New Zealand Actors. They are not a Union, and have none of the legal status of a Union. They are a … well, a smallish group who have some New Zealand actors as members.

Just some of those New Zealand actors are Dame Kate Harcourt, Jennifer Ward Lealand, Bruce Hopkins, Tandi Wright, Michael Hurst, Cameron Rhodes, Elizabeth McCrae, Stephen Lovatt, Kirk Torrance and Lisa Chappel. Not small names in New Zealand.

“How many actors are members of NZ Equity? They guard that information very closely, but various reports I’ve seen put their membership at 200, although somebody in the know swears it’s nearer 100.”

If we are going to engage in rumours a more accurate one (from a member of the National Performers Committee of Equity itself) places membership in excess of 400. Still small but read on …

“How many professional actors are there in New Zealand? Somewhere between 2000 and 4000, depending on just how you describe a “professional actor”. Obviously most Kiwi actors have other employment too, but there’s certainly over 2000 actors available to cast in a film production.”

Actually in the 2006 census the occupation count for actors in New Zealand (ie. those who said they were actors!) was 588 …. see here http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage/classification-counts-tables/about-people/~/media/Statistics/Publications/Census/2006-reports/Classification-Count-Tables/People/occupation-revised.ashx

“So taking the most generous numbers, NZ Actors Equity represents 200 out of 2000 Kiwi actors, or 10%. Perhaps I’m wrong, and if so, NZ Equity will no doubt reveal their real membership numbers.”

Taking those alternative stats and calculating suggests NZ Actors Equity represents 68% of Nz actors. Even if you take Peters “generous” estimate of 200 its still at least a third.

“Now there’s nothing wrong with NZ Actors Equity representing 10% of the actors in this country. It’s great that they offer that service, and if an actor chooses, there’s a supportive group they can join. Obviously the more actors that join NZ Equity, the better, since these organisations usually survive by taking a small percentage of their members acting fees. I’m guessing that Equity do something like that. Recently they have been part-funded by MEAA.”

Actors do pay a small due to help keep their union running. Recently NZ Actor’s Equity asked the Australian union for help in order to combat the behaviour of NZ producers who have been exploiting their members. MEAA have been providing this support. NZ Actors Equity is now an independent arm of the MEAA.

“Over the last 10 years our relationship with NZ Equity has been rocky — whenever we cast an “overseas actor”, we get a letter telling us why such and such Kiwi actor would be so much better in the role. In most cases we have already auditioned the actor in question, and formed our own opinions…”

Standard immigration policy all over the world demands that businesses demonstrate that any foreign national they hire doesn’t take a job away from a local.

“What really does strike me as wrong, and this is my personal opinion, is the why that the MEAA is using NZ Actors Equity as a vehicle to represent the voices and opinions of New Zealand actors. A couple of years ago, the members of NZ Actors Equity voted to join some kind of alliance with the Australian MEAA group. At the time, there were voices of alarm at how this relationship could damage the interest of Kiwi Actors, but the merger went ahead – and now we’re about to find out just how damaging it’s going to be.”

One of the many reasons NZ performers voted to accept the support of the MEAA is they were tired of being “Mexicans with cellphones” as some of the international producers colourfully called them. Doing the same work on the same productions and being awarded less than their international cousins.

“I personally have a problem with any organisation who represent a small minority, but attempt to take control of everyone – but that’s not the real issue. The complex web of NZ labour laws are the reason why this demand will never be agreed to. NZ law prohibits engaging in collective bargaining with any labour organisation representing performers who are independent contractors, as film actors clearly are. The NZ Commerce Act claims it would be unlawful to engage with an Australian Union on these matters.”

However NZ Actors Equity has obtained legal advice that there are a variety of lawful means which could be used to establish the minimum wages, working conditions and residuals for performers on the production. A copy of this advice has been provided to the lawyers for the producer. So somebody has their facts wrong …

“My personal opinion is that this is a grab for power. It does not represent a problem that needs a solution. There will always be differing opinions when it comes down to work and conditions, but I have always attempted to treat my actors and crew with fairness and respect. We have created a very favourable profit sharing pool for the non-Union actors on The Hobbit — and now the Union is targeting us, despite the fact that we have always respected SAG conditions and residuals.

I can’t see beyond the ugly spectre of an Australian bully-boy, using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country’s film industry. They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance.”

This emotionally charged statement has been quoted extensively by news media thus far. To be clear it is all of the Australian, American, Canadian and British unions who stand with the NZ performers not just an Australian “bully-boy”. They are supporting New Zealand performers at the request of Actors Equity NZ. The request isn’t much. A standard union negotiated contract for all New Zealand performers.

Interestingly enough the person complaining about the “Australian bully-boy” (who are involved only to support fair contracts for New Zealand actors) is the one who is perpetuating unfair conditions on his own country men. A Kiwi exploiting his own?

“But it sure feels like we are being attacked simply because we are a big fat juicy target – not for any wrong doing. We haven’t even been greenlit yet! It feels as if we have a large Aussie cousin kicking sand in our eyes … or to put it another way, opportunists exploiting our film for their own political gain.”

Or it could be viewed as the acting community of the world standing up for the rights of a small group.

lprent: Updated to fix the links and put in a link that had moved (thanks to tiger).

50 comments on “MEAA fisks Jackson tirade”

  1. Wow, great post Irish.

    It is great when the facts get in the way of PR and this post is an example of what can happen when the facts are reported.

  2. Swampy 2

    Now isn’t it strange, that file is not on their server any more.

  3. Swampy 3

    Where’s a response to the statement that the MEAA is not a registered union in NZ and therefore an NZ employer is not able to negotiate a collective agreement with them.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Can’t wait until the Jackson PR accusations of simply being an innocent Tall Poppy start to appear.

    An innocent Tall Poppy who only respects the value of the per hour labour supporting his multi-million dollar profit stream when absolutely forced to.

  5. millsy 5

    I had a lot of respect for Sir Peter Jackson until this.

    • Jim Nald 5.1

      Ditto

    • jagilby 5.2

      Yeah, how dare he not lay down for the unions.

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        Forget the unions, that’s a red herring. How dare he diss fellow NZ workers in favour of his multinational paymasters. That’s the issue.

        • jagilby 5.2.1.1

          Uhh ha, looks like he will diss NZ workers by packing up his sandpit and taking the production offshore.

          Such a cock that Sir Pete – single handedly setting up that multi-million industry here.

          What’s worse than (alleged) poor working conditions for (otherwise unskilled) workers?
          No working conditions.

          Just shows all this hand-wringing about job creation is so disingenuous.
          Jobs are all well and good only if they result in more union subsidies to fund your political agenda. It’s so transparent that, frankly, it’s sickening.

  6. Standard immigration policy all over the world demands that businesses demonstrate that any foreign national they hire doesn’t take a job away from a local.

    And standard Hollywood big-budget movie policy all over the world is that the producers and director decide which actors are going to play the parts. If you don’t want big-budget movies made here, fine – it’s a free country. But if you would like them made here, this kind of blather is just plain delusional.

    The request isn’t much. A standard union negotiated contract for all New Zealand performers.

    Actually, that request is much – it’s a demand for non-union workers to be covered by the union’s contract without them having to join the union. Why the employer would be interested in assisting with this is anything but obvious.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    And standard Hollywood big-budget movie policy all over the world is that the producers and director decide which actors are going to play the parts. If you don’t want big-budget movies made here, fine – it’s a free country. But if you would like them made here, this kind of blather is just plain delusional.

    Maybe you’re a real “Stars in their Eyes” type but WTF would you let these rich pricks turn up on our shores with their million dollar making projects, and short change your fellow New Zealanders?

    You really think that they cannot afford an extra NZ$100K in wages to give NZ’ers a fair go out of a US$150M Hollywood block buster budget?

    Grow up and learn to back your fellow workers mate.

    • Not interested. If the people actually working in the sector don’t care enough about this to actually join the union, I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over it.

      • lprent 7.1.1

        Ummm if the numbers in the post are correct, then it does look like the majority of actors are in the union?

        BTW: I checked from another source of occupational data and I’d say that the census over estimates the numbers who call themselves actors. Furthermore when I peek at the historical data there aren’t that many who stay in the occupation for very long. I wonder why? Lousy wages and lack of security perhaps? The very thing that unions formed over?

        • pollywog 7.1.1.1

          Maybe they cant be bothered paying union fees to a union that is so ineffectual that they feel capable of representing themselves at the negotiating table and commanding what they’re worth based on the value they place on themselves and their work or are prepared to take a hit in the wallet for the love of the craft.

          No ones forcing actors to take the money on offer but this union is trying to force the producers to offer more when maybe the actors just aren’t worth it.

        • Salsy 7.1.1.2

          there aren’t that many who stay in the occupation for very long. I wonder why? Lousy wages and lack of security perhaps? The very thing that unions formed over?

          How about lack of roles, funding and a small indie industry ?

          • IrishBill 7.1.1.2.1

            Milt, you’re looking at it like it’s a standard job that gets organised as the ongoing job is done. That’s not how this sort of thing works as there’s nobody employed on the project to be in the union yet.

            Think of it like a major construction project such as a hydro dam. What happens in Aussie (and occasionally here) is the union negotiates with the companies running the project to get a collective agreement and then workers who sign up for the project get the option of joining the collective.

            The other option is to unionise the project once it’s under way. A situation that is both disruptive to the project and messy for the workers.

  8. fatchecker 8

    More nz sux posts from the substandard mmmkay

  9. the sprout 9

    What a surprise that a Hollywood millionaire with a colonial title should turn out to be a lying arsehole.

  10. Salsy 10

    What NZ actors who do bit parts in Weta Movies should be forced into a union which makes them pay around $2000 per year to be part of, and then dictates which movies they can and cant be in (i.e SAG). Tarantino for instance is known to hire non union, because like Jackson he knows actors unions threaten independant film making… The knee jerk anti Jackson reactions here are painful..

  11. Craig Ranapia 11

    No claim has been made suggesting The Hobbit is non union

    The MEAA should drop the Screen Actors Guild a line and suggest they stop claiming exactly that — repeatedly — in the Member’s Alert on their own website. Then again, MEAA director Simon Whipp would look ever so slightly foolish doing so, because I assume he concurred with the wording before he agreed to have it sent out with his signature attached.

    http://www.sag.org/sag-member-alert-non-union-production-hobbit

  12. Jeremy Harris 12

    If the film loses money do the Actors have to chip in to pay the bills..?

  13. Just some of those New Zealand actors are Dame Kate Harcourt, Jennifer Ward Lealand, Bruce Hopkins, Tandi Wright, Michael Hurst, Cameron Rhodes, Elizabeth McCrae, Stephen Lovatt, Kirk Torrance and Lisa Chappel. Not small names in New Zealand.

    You’re just saying they belong to Actors Equity but do you actually know what their position is ?…Has anyone asked them ?

    Not that i’m particularly interested in what mostly TV regulars, none of whom could command the star power residuals which lie at the heart of the matter, have to say about this.

    So explain to me again why actors think they deserve a bigger cut of the take if they dont actually take any risk and front up with any stake money from the outset. Is it cos they’re soooo hard done by and their working conditions suck ?

    I’d still be keen on hearing what Sam Neill, Karl Urban and Cliff Curtis have got to say more than anyone but somehow i dont think we’re gonna hear them complain much about their lot in life or put their careers on the line for any of those mentioned above nor do i think those mentioned are gonna step up, put their money where their mouth is and their careers on the line for the assembled throng of disgruntled bit players and cast offs.

    • Carol 13.1

      Just as I thought, Urban is a bit of a union man:

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/4172672/Urban-backs-unions-over-conditions

      Kiwi movie star Karl Urban has thrown his weight behind a union demand for better conditions for actors.

      • pollywog 13.1.1

        NZ Actors Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand said it did not want to jeopardise production of The Hobbit in New Zealand but had been seeking a meeting to discuss the issue for more than a month.

        “NZ Actors Equity is concerned that local actors working on the production receive a fair and equitable contract, just as their international colleagues will do.”

        Karl urban said

        “[The] NZ Actors Equity has my full support in their struggle to gain a higher standard of contract for New Zealand performers

        If he [Jackson] has the opportunity to help improve the working conditions for actors in New Zealand, to bring us more in line with our colleagues in Australia, the UK, and the US…”

        Good on ya Karl

        So would that concern also extend to your international colleagues in Bollywood, Nigeria or Eastern Europe and it’s only NZ Actors Equity that has your full support but lets be specific…

        Whats your position regarding supporting the MEAA and their demand for NZ actors to boycott ‘the hobbit’ ?

        …and these working conditions you’d like to see improved. Could you expound on that a bit more ? I thought it was only about gouging more dosh from the producers in the form of residuals ?

        And heres a question you and Jen might perhaps like to answer ?

        What impact do you think it will have on the NZ film industry if international standards of contract are applied across the board to all NZ shot films, not just the major studio blockbusters ?

        It seems the MEAA dont have any qualms about sacrificing our film industry. That would see foreign productions shift to non unionised locales, for the sake of the few well to do actors who will benefit most.I mean, it’s not like the MEAA have anything to lose, but a whole lot of membership fees to gain, plus a degree of power in the NZ film industry.

        Is that a sacrifice you’re prepared to make over a few measly dollars ? So really, how bad are these conditions and contracts ?

        • Salsy 13.1.1.1

          What impact do you think it will have on the NZ film industry if international standards of contract are applied across the board to all NZ shot films, not just the major studio blockbusters ?

          These are the exact questions we should be asking Polly :). Given the NZ film industry consists almost entirely of independent films, bar the few big budget Studio funded films Jackson brings to the shores…

      • Craig Ranapia 13.1.2

        I’m rather more bemused that Ian McKellen, AFAIK, has no comment. As far as I’m aware, he’s been an active member of Actor’s Equity in the UK for over forty years, and God know he’s never been shy about saying what he really thinks.

      • William 13.1.3

        When Sam Neill was employed at the NFU he was a staunch PSA member. The political causes he has supported in more recent times would indicate he hasn’t moved far from the support of workers rights.

  14. SHG 14

    Simple question: is the MEAA a registered union under the Employment Relations Act?

    If the answer is “no”, then it has no standing and the producers cannot legally negotiate with it, which would make this entire exercise a NZ PR campaign by an Australian union.

    • The Voice of Reason 14.1

      Except NZ employers regularly ‘negotiate’ collectively with workers who are not union members. Most recently this has taken the form of fat cat CEO’s announcing wage freezes. Illegal, but rarely challenged.

    • William 14.2

      Bullshit. The producers seem quite willing to honour conditions negotiated by SAG and other overseas unions, and those unions are not registered under the ERA.

    • Rich 14.3

      As far as I’m aware, being a registered union is only required to get the various rights unions have. There is no law that prevents a company negotiating with an unregistered union or any other body – they aren’t legally obliged to either. Point to the ERA section if you disagree.

      I believe the approach of the various international acting unions is that if the film is non-union, their members, including the stars the film needs to be a success, shouldn’t sign up to work on it. This applies if the film is made in Wellington, Moldova or on an floating disused oil platform. Sure, it can be made with unknown East European actors, but the chances are that nobody would pay to watch it.

  15. factchecker 15

    “The Alliance agreement for large budget international studio films (such as Mad Max 4 aka Fury Road
    and Happy Feet 2) provides for residuals that are equivalent to those under the SAG Agreement. The
    residuals proposed by the producers of The Hobbit are less in every respect.”

    Fantasists

  16. Daveo 16

    When the MEAA talk about the New Zealand contract they are talking about the situation where people that would usually be employees covered by employment law (minimum wage, right to challenge dismissal etc) are hired as “independent contractors”.

    Independent contractors are considered to be one-person businesses engaged in a contract with the producers. the relationship is similar to that you might have with a plumber you call in to fix a leak – you’re not the employer, rather you get a quote for the whole job and then they do it for that price and if you’re not happy with the job you break the contract.

    This means the employment relationship is considered to be a contract that falls under the commerce act rather than under employment law.

    This may be a suitable circumstance for hiring a plumber (in which both parties have similar negotiating power when the contract is created, such as you and your plumber) but there is no way an individual film worker has the ability to negotiate a fair contract with a multi-million dollar producer in that the cost of losing the contract for the worker is significantly greater than the cost of not hiring that individual worker is to the producer (the former risks losing their livelihood the other only risks having to find another contractor).

    As such many film workers in the small NZ film market end up working contracts that would be below legal minimum standards if they were deemed employment agreements but don’t have employment law to protect them.

    A union draws together the negotiating power of individual workers (and, in this case, international stars) to provide a balance to the power of the producers in order to achieve a more balanced outcome in the form of a collective agreement. In short, the union members’ risk is still the loss of their livelyhood but so too is the producers as there are no other “contractors” to do the work.

    What we are seeing here is Peter Jackson and other film producers trying to stop this collective process because it threatens their monopoly on bargaining power.

    It should be noted that Jackson pays union rates to international members of the Screen Actors Guild. This is simply because the collective negotiating power of SAG is considerably greater than his negotiating power. Which is to say if he took SAG on he would never get work in Hollywood again.

    While this may seem a cynical reduction of the issue it is the reality of doing business in a liberalised labour market such as New Zealand’s.

  17. Carol 17

    On Campbell Live just now, Bruce Hopkins (actor in Hercules, Xena, LOTR), threw some light on the Jackson-actors’ union issue. It seems it goes back to some time in the 90s when the Nats deregulated unions, and set a minimum limit on the number of members needed to form a union. The actors’ didn’t have enough members to be a union & have tried attaching themselves to other unions in the past. But this wasn’t very satisfactory because they were attached to unions they had nothing in common with. So, then a key leader put out a call for a union to affiliate with in Melbourne, and MEA responded.

    So, basically, they have a history of not being able to negotiate bottom-line conditions of employment. This issue pre-dates LOTR. And Kiwi actors are about the only ones in the world who haven’t been able to negotiate a basic agreement.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      And it sounds like Jackson, instead of siding with Kiwi actors to fight for a better deal, has simply become a money taking agent of the multinationals and is pushing a free market model for labour i.e. one which benefits the corporations the most by disempowering workers to the maximum.

      Shame shame shame

    • Craig Ranapia 17.2

      Carol: I think Bruce should stick to the acting (which he’s rather good at) because his history is FUBAR. He might start by asking someone at the CTU to send him a copy of the Employment Relations Act – which was passed by the Fifth Labour Government.

  18. RedLogix 18

    This is what happens when you live in a ‘gated community’ … in this case a mansion tucked away in the Wairarapa… you completely loose touch with ordinary people.

    All through history there are endless examples of people who through talent, luck or sheer guts have risen to the top…only to be toppled by their own hubris. It’s the oldest tragedy.

  19. millsy 19

    As much as I greatly admire what Jackson has done for the New Zealand cinema and film industry, I dont think it should be an exuse to treat film industry workers like crap.

    The set and costume designers (and the people who put it together) did a great job on LOTR and are more than capable of drawing a viewer into the film, and it would be a shame that they had to be paid less than minimum wage

  20. Jum 20

    captcha: voices

    Doesn’t Peter remember the bullshit from New Line Cinema trying to rip him off; he needs to remember that NZ actors are entitled to being treated fairly; remember that Peter – a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and no loading the rich guy’s side.

    Unfortunately, Peter is beginning to sound like John Key. I thought he was different.

  21. Tiger Mountain 21

    It seems last night several hundred NZ actors (not Australian Actors) met in New Zealand (not Australia) and democratically decided to recommend to NZ Equity members they not accept work on the ‘Hobbit’ until a meeting to discuss conditions has been held with Sir Jackson.

  22. Jum 22

    My goodness, these captchas are spooky; I was intending to post that Peter has gone over to the dark side, National.

    captcha: NATIONAL

    I don’t believe Lord of the Rings would have taken on the amount of magic it did without the total immersion of New Zealand and New Zealanders in it. Key as Tourism minister should know how much Kiwi actors put into taking New Zealand and fantasy to the world and Jackson should know how much less of a film it would have been if filmed in Eastern Europe.

    If Peter’s planning to go over there because unions aren’t operating for their workers, then he really has morphed into the Wolf.

    The sheer pleasure of New Zealanders in taking the actors to their hearts; the actors like Orlando Bloom, the wee hobbits, etc who responded to that by giving a better performance; these are all unquantified positives but certainly would have increased the monetary intake at box offices around the world.

    At best, Jackson is a puppet being manipulated because he wants to do The Hobbit, but at what cost to his mana here or actors here if they cave in when there is so much support for them in Australia, America, etc.

    Key, of course, would love to see yet another Union weakened in New Zealand. We must be grateful other countries are supportive. We must be too, in order to strengthen the meaning of Union around New Zealand which is for people, people, people as opposed to the moneytrader’s mantra – money, money and more money/power, power and more power.

    Let’s give the power to the people.

  23. angus 23

    It also looks like when he said he dealt fairly with union members he was talking about the Screen Actors Guild members – an American union that could finish him if he went against it (so it looks like he’s only pro-union when it’s unions he can’t bully).

    Sir Peter Jackson is a union member, who is being targeted unfairly in an agressive smear campaign. He can therefore go to his union and get them to boycott working with any “talent” from the MEAA.

  24. David 24

    Well if the shitbag Aussie wankers who obviously cant do anything for themselves, so they are trying to ruin the NZ film industry .

    Here’s a suggestion for you
    FUCK OFF

    • Marty G 24.1

      The workers are Kiwi.

      They are members of New Zealand Actors’ Equity which is an autonomous part of the Australasian union MEAA. Film is an international business, so the unions operate and cooperate across borders too.

      no need for the language.

  25. David 25

    If the Aussies are intent with the help of a few RICH NZ actressess and actors to ruin the NZ film industry I will NOT tone down the language. They don’t care about anyone or anything except thier own over inflated bank accounts..

    So I repeat

    FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Marty G 25.1

      Why would New Zealand actors who want to be in The Hobbit want to send The Hobbit overseas?

      You’ll tone down the language if you want to continue commenting here. This isn’t anarchy. This site is the private property of The Standard Trust.We welcome robust debate and all we ask is that you behave civilly while here. If you’re unclear on what good behaviour in company is check the policy: http://thestandard.org.nz/policy/ Nearly everyone manages to behave civilly and those who don’t face consequences.

      [lprent: and I enjoy implementing the consequence when people violate my interpretation of the policy. ]

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    2 days ago
  • New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell not seeking re-election
    Clayton Mitchell MP, New Zealand First List MP based in Tauranga New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell has decided not to seek re-election in this year’s General Election.  “After serious consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided to pursue other passions in my life and spend a lot ...
    2 days ago
  • Five new Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft to replace ageing fleet
    Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced that new Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft would replace the outdated and costly 1960s Hercules fleet. The $1.521b project will include a flight simulator for staff training and other supporting infrastructure. "This fleet will ensure the Defence Force can continue to support New Zealand's ...
    2 days ago
  • Greens urge police to rule out armed police patrols following George Floyd’s death
    The Green Party is urging the New Zealand Police to rule out the use of Armed Response Teams, following their recent trial in communities around Aotearoa. ...
    2 days ago
  • NZ First fought for changes to “poorly-targeted” rent dispute policy
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has described Labour's original COVID-19 commercial rent dispute proposal as "poorly targeted". Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced a temporary law change to force commercial landlords and renters to consider COVID-19 in disputes over rent issues, almost two months after the Government first floated the idea.  But ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand First ensures commercial rent dispute clause fairly applied
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First acknowledges that some small businesses have been struggling to meet fixed costs due to the loss of revenue by COVID-19. We also know some businesses are at greater risk of insolvency when they cannot come to a reasonable ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand First disappointed that Section 70 spouses won’t get relief
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First is disappointed that the removal of the spousal deductions has had to be delayed by the Ministry fo Social Development, due to COVID19 workload pressures. “New Zealand First has always stood for fairness when it comes to superannuation ...
    5 days ago
  • Winston Peters receives petition demanding more protection for nurses
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First On the steps of Parliament today the Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters received a petition from registered nurse Anna Maria Coervers, requesting an amendment to the Protection for First Responders Bill which will ensure the legislation also include registered ...
    5 days ago
  • Week That Was: Getting our economy moving
    It's been a busy seven days as we start to rebuild New Zealand together. From delivering extra support for small businesses, to investing in our artists and arts organisations, to cutting red tape on home DIY projects, we're rolling out our plan to get the economy and New Zealand moving ...
    5 days ago
  • Winston Peters: If protests condoned ‘why are we not at level 1?’
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says alert level 2 restrictions have to be discussed during today's Cabinet meeting. Thousands gathered across the country, including at Parliament, yesterday for Black Lives Matter marches where social distancing and mass gathering rules were flouted. Mr Peters said the breaching of Alert Level 2 rules at ...
    5 days ago
  • Northland rail work to help create regional jobs
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Owned Enterprises KiwiRail’s Northland rail upgrade steps up another gear today and will help Northland recover from the impacts of COVID-19, State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says. The Government is investing $204.5 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to ...
    6 days ago
  • Green Party statement on the death of George Floyd
    “Today and every day we stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, friends and community who feel pain and fear about his untimely death at the hands of Minneapolis police”, said Green Party Co-leader and Māori Development spokesperson Marama Davidson. ...
    6 days ago
  • Lake Brunner’s Mount Te Kinga to go Predator Free
    Fletcher Tabuteau, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation The West Coast forests of Mount Te Kinga at Kotuku Whakaoho/Lake Brunner are the latest predator free project to receive Government funding, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher ...
    1 week ago
  • Green Party welcomes crucial financial support for creatives
    The Green Party says new government support for creatives and artists is a vital lifeline for a sector struggling to survive the COVID crisis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Strongest ever water reforms mean swimmable rivers within a generation
    The Green Party says major freshwater reforms announced today provide the strongest ever protections of our waterways, to help ensure the next generation can swim in the rivers of Aotearoa. ...
    1 week ago
  • Greens work to secure inquiry into Wild West student accommodation sector
    The Green Party has begun the process for a Select Committee inquiry into student accommodation, which has been exposed during COVID-19 as an under-regulated sector that straddles students with unfair debt. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand joins global search for COVID-19 vaccine
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Dr David Clark, Minister of Health Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods,  and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Budget 2020: Five things to know
    Budget 2020 is about rebuilding together, supporting jobs, getting business moving and the books back into the black. It’s an integral part of our COVID-19 economic response, and our plan to grow our economy and get New Zealand moving again. Here’s a quick look at the five top things you ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party unveils its candidate list for the 2020 election
    The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coalition Government approves essential upgrades on Ōhakea Air Base
    The Coalition Government has approved $206 million in essential upgrades at Ōhakea Air Base.  Defence Minister Ron Mark said the money would be spent on improving old infrastructure. He said safety issues would be addressed, as well as upgrades to taxiways, accommodation and fresh, storm and waste water systems. "This ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Attributable to the Rt Hon Winston Peters
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First “I am not persisting with this case just for myself, but for all people who have had their privacy breached. Privacy of information is a cornerstone of our country’s democracy. Without it our society truly faces a bleak future. We now ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Major boost in support for caregivers and children
    Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Children A major increase in funding and availability of support will improve the incomes and reduce the pressure on 14,000 caregivers looking after more than 22,000 children. Children’s Minister Tracey Martin says that caregivers – all those looking after someone else’s children both in and ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Forestry Minister Shane Jones moves to protect sawmills
    Forestry Minister Shane Jones has introduced a Bill to Parliament that he says will "force more transparency, integrity and respect" for the domestic wood-processing sector through the registration of log traders and practice standards. The Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill had its first reading in ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Great Walks bookings open next week
    This summer presents a great opportunity for New Zealanders to get out into nature with bookings on Great Walks for 2020/21 set to open next week, says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.  Bookings for the Great Walks will open between 9 and 11 June, excluding Milford and Routeburn tracks which ...
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    1 day ago
  • Ministerial Diary April 2020
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    2 days ago
  • Govt extends support schemes for businesses
    Extra 40,000 businesses to be eligible for wage subsidy extension Small business cashflow support application period extended The Government is today announcing further support for businesses that continue to be affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, as the broader economy becomes one of the most open in the world following ...
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    2 days ago
  • Five new Super Hercules to join Air Force fleet
    The Coalition Government has confirmed five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft will be purchased to replace the existing fleet, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.  “Last year, Cabinet selected these aircraft as the preferred option to replace the current Hercules fleet. Procurement of the Super Hercules has been ...
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    2 days ago
  • New public housing sets standard for future
    New public housing that will save tenants money in energy bills, and provide warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes, is setting the standard for the Government’s future public housing programme, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. Dr Woods opened the new Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities complex, which has a ...
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    2 days ago
  • Wairarapa Moana seeks international recognition as vital wetland
    The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage is celebrating World Environment Day with an announcement of a major step towards Wairarapa Moana being recognised as an internationally significant wetland. “Wairarapa Moana is an ecosystem of 10,000 hectares of wetland and open water that provides a home for indigenous fish, birds and ...
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    2 days ago
  • First Police wing to complete training post lockdown
    A new-look Police graduation ceremony to take account of COVID19 health rules has marked the completion of training for 57 new constables. Police Minister Stuart Nash attended this afternoon's ceremony, where officers of Recruit Wing 337 were formally sworn in at the Royal New Zealand Police College without the normal support of ...
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    3 days ago
  • Government makes further inroads on predatory lenders
    Mobile traders and truck shops must adhere to responsible lending requirements Interest rate cap on high-cost loans Lenders prohibited from offering further credit to an applicant who has taken two high-cost loans in the past 90 days The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, has signalled an end ...
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    3 days ago
  • New survey shows wage subsidy a “lifeline” for businesses, saved jobs
    94% of firms say wage subsidy had positive impact on cashflow 62% of firms say support helped to manage non-wage costs like rent A survey of business that have received the Government’s wage subsidy show it has played a significant role in saving jobs, and freed up cash flow to ...
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    3 days ago
  • Tax changes support economic recovery
    New legislation introduced to Parliament today will support growth and assist businesses on the road to economic recovery, said Revenue Minister Stuart Nash. “The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill proposes that businesses can get tax deductions for ‘feasibility expenditure’ on new investments,” said Mr ...
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    3 days ago
  • $4.6 million financial relief for professional sports
    Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has welcomed the first release of funds from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced as part of Budget 2020. Sport NZ has announced that $4.6 million in funding will go to the Wellington Phoenix, NZ Warriors, Super Rugby teams and the ANZ Premiership ...
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    3 days ago
  • Critical support for strategic tourism assets
    An iconic New Zealand tourism attraction and the country’s 31 Regional Tourism Organisations are the first recipients of support from the $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, to help position the sector for recovery from COVID-19, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. The plan includes a Strategic Tourism Assets Protection ...
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    3 days ago
  • Supporting Kiwi businesses to resolve commercial rent disputes
    The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. A temporary amendment to the Property Law Act will insert a clause in commercial leases requiring a fair ...
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    3 days ago
  • Prompt payments to SMEs even more urgent
    The Minister for Small Business says new data from Xero highlights the urgency of prompt payment practices to small and medium enterprises as we move into economic recovery. Last month Government ministers wrote to significant private enterprises and the banking industry to request they join efforts by government agencies to ...
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    3 days ago
  • Free period products in schools to combat poverty
    Young people in Waikato will be the first to have free access to period products in schools in another step to support children and young people in poverty,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.  During term 3, the Ministry of Education will begin providing free period products to schools following the ...
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    4 days ago
  • Response to charges in New Plymouth
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash has issued the following statement in response to charges filed against three Police officers this morning in the New Plymouth District Court. “Any incident involving a loss of life in Police custody is taken very seriously. The charges today reflect the gravity of the ...
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    4 days ago
  • Govt boosts innovation, R&D for economic rebuild
    $196 million for Crown Research Institutes $150 million for R&D loan scheme $33 million for Māori research and development opportunities $12 million for the Nationally Significant Collections and Databases $10 million to help maintain in-house capability at Callaghan Innovation New Zealand’s entrepreneurs, innovators and crown researchers will benefit from a ...
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    4 days ago
  • Temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance this year
    Further temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) will support senior secondary school students whose teaching and learning have been disrupted by COVID-19. “The wellbeing of students and teachers is a priority. As we are all aware, COVID-19 has created massive disruption to the school system, and the Government ...
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    4 days ago
  • Extended terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency
    Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced that the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) have been extended to 30 June 2021. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the transition period has been extended to ensure that the Racing Industry Bill can complete its progress through ...
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    4 days ago
  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
    The deadline for landlords to include detailed information in their tenancy agreements about how their property meets the Healthy Homes Standards, so tenants can see the home they are renting is compliant, has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.  The Healthy Homes Standards became law on 1 July 2019. The Standards are ...
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    5 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
    Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced details of further appointments to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. “I am pleased to announce Paula Rose QSO OStJ as Deputy Chief Commissioner for a term of five years commencing on 15 June 2020,” said Andrew Little. “I am also pleased to announce the ...
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    5 days ago
  • Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery
    The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) will pay costs of learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and training The fund will target support for areas of study and training that will give learners better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19 Apprentices working in all industries ...
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    5 days ago
  • Emission trading reforms another step to meeting climate targets
    The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will finally start to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas pollution as it was originally intended to, because of changes announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw. The changes include a limit on the total emissions allowed within the ETS, rules to ensure ...
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    5 days ago
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List provides an abundance of examples that Pacific people’s leadership capability is unquestionable in Aotearoa. “The work and the individuals we acknowledge this year highlights the kind of visionary examples and dedicated community leadership that we need ...
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    6 days ago
  • Govt backing horticulture to succeed
    The Government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our economy. During and ...
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    6 days ago
  • Applications open for forestry scholarships
    Applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science, says Forestry Minister Shane Jones. “I’m delighted Te Uru Rākau is offering Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships for the third year running. These ...
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    6 days ago
  • Excellent service to nature recognised
    The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List once again highlights the dedication by many to looking after our native plants and wildlife, including incredible work to restore the populations of critically endangered birds says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. Anne Richardson of Hororata has been made an Officer of the New ...
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    6 days ago
  • Wetlands and waterways gain from 1BT funding
    The Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones have announced. New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant ...
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    1 week ago
  • New fund for women now open
    Organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. “We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19. This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women’s rights,” said Minister for ...
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    1 week ago
  • Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality
    Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers. The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “Yesterday ...
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    1 week ago
  • Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery
    A major funding package for libraries will allow them to play a far greater role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. “Budget 2020 contains over $60 million of funding to protect library services and to protect jobs,” says Internal Affairs ...
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    1 week ago
  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
    A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package in a crucial economic boost to support the ...
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    1 week ago
  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.  The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of ...
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    1 week ago
  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
    Views sought on Order in Council to help fast track the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Poto Williams, will be seeking public written comment, following Cabinet approving the drafting of an Order in Council aimed at fast-tracking the reinstatement of the ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Zealanders’ human rights better protected in new Bill
    The law setting out New Zealanders’ basic civil and human rights is today one step towards being strengthened following the first reading of a Bill that requires Parliament to take action if a court says a statute undermines those rights. At present, a senior court can issue a ‘declaration of ...
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    1 week ago
  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong. “New Zealand shares the international community’s significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
    Thousands of artists and creatives at hundreds of cultural and heritage organisations have been given much-needed support to recover from the impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The cultural sector was amongst the worst hit by the global pandemic,” Jacinda ...
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    1 week ago
  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
    Key New Zealand assets will be better protected from being sold to overseas owners in a way contrary to the national interest, with the passage of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill. The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, also cuts unnecessary red tape to help attract ...
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    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
    Setting higher health standards at swimming spots Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams Putting controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health Ensuring ...
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    1 week ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
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    1 week ago