Editorial - Special favours for film?

Last updated 07:08 03/10/2012

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Governments do not create jobs, the Beehive tells us - businesses do. Nor should governments pick winners, ministers say when asked to help a troubled company or industry. Their job is to create the economic conditions in which businesses prosper and job growth is nurtured.

But some industries are exempted from that dogma. The Key Government changed our labour laws in response to Warner Bros' threats to take The Hobbit elsewhere, for example (and it threw in a few million dollars to help the movie moguls with marketing).

The 2012/13 appropriations for economic development show $1 million budgeted to provide support for the recovery of businesses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes, and the Regional and Industry Development Fund has $200,000 to support industry and regional-specific projects intended to contribute to economic growth. The Large Budget Screen Production Fund, providing assistance to film and television productions that spend more than $15 million in New Zealand, contains $50.5 million.

Prime Minister John Key, who is headed for Hollywood to meet top studio executives, said he was unlikely to make further concessions to film studios to entice them to produce movies here. But he would not rule it out.

The timing of his four-day visit has been awkward for other reasons, however, because it coincides with the controversy triggered by US efforts to extradite Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom and the Government Communications Security Bureau's unlawful attempts to help. Mr Dotcom is wanted by US authorities to face copyright violation charges at the behest of American film and music industries.

The PM's trip was booked a while ago, long before the spying fiasco became the stuff of headlines. Mr Key has further disassociated his visit from the Dotcom affair by emphasising it was important because the film industry was worth $3 billion to New Zealand.

He has also he said he did not believe the Dotcom affair would come up.

But the Motion Picture Association of America, reported to have described Mr Dotcom as "a career criminal", is on Mr Key's agenda. If he really expects us to believe the Dotcom affair won't be mentioned, we can only wonder who is in Fantasyland and where it is located.

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- Waikato

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