21 Dec 2010

Dunne concerned by Hobbit email

6:00 pm on 21 December 2010

One of the Government's support partners is questioning whether he was misled into supporting changes to employment law to ensure the Hobbit movies were made in New Zealand.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says correspondence made public under the Official Information Act has left him concerned about the matter.

Radio New Zealand's political editor says the information includes an email from Sir Peter Jackson to the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee saying the blacklisting of the films by actors had no bearing on where they would be made.

Mr Dunne, who voted for the law change under urgency in October, says it was always made clear to him that the change was linked to the union action.

He says the revelation leaves a sour taste and he will ask for an explanation from ministers in the New Year.

Prime Minister John Key and Gerry Brownlee are on holiday and not available to comment.

CTU president not surprised

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly is not surprised by emails which show Sir Peter Jackson did not believe an actors' boycott would force production of the Hobbit movie offshore.

Correspondence obtained under the Official Information Act shows that two days before Sir Richard Taylor led a march of 1000 film technicians through Wellington, the boycott was a non-issue for Sir Peter and the Warner Bros. studio.

In an email, Sir Peter told a senior Government official the issue concerning the studio was New Zealand employment law.

Ms Kelly told Morning Report the emails prove that claims she made at the time were right.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard says the emails show the Government was prepared to take advantage of the boycott situation to change employment law.