Warner Bros bosses travel in style, costing taxpayers $6000

16:00, Dec 10 2010

Film executives who jetted in for crisis talks over The Hobbit were ferried around in government cars at a cost of almost $6000.

The Warner Bros bosses were given VIP treatment, including swift clearance at customs.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act and posted on the No Right Turn blog show the red-carpet treatment was ordered by the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee.

"My minister and the prime minister have discussed this and want to present the best possible welcome to New Zealand," a senior adviser in Mr Brownlee's office wrote.

"They would like to arrange full customs facilitation for the executives. This is part of presenting an image of an effective government."

Mr Brownlee led the Government's talks with nine studio chiefs who flew in for talks in October, after Warner Bros considered taking the filming of the two movies overseas.

They were transported by the Government's VIP Transport Service between the international and domestic airport terminals in Auckland, and around Wellington for meetings with ministers from October 26 to 28. The total cost was $5948.

By contrast, a Corporate Cabs representative said for $270 a taxi could be hired for continued use between 9am and 3pm, with a $90-an-hour charge for extra use outside that time.

Mr Brownlee said that, with The Hobbit expected to bring $700 million to New Zealand, ferrying the executives around was "appropriate". "At the time it was said the Government should do whatever it takes to keep The Hobbit. We did whatever it took."

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The Dominion Post