Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Kiwis favour help for films and TV

But there is not the same support for sweetener paid to Tiwai Point smelter

Nearly 64 per cent said they approved of the Government's subsidies to attract big film productions to New Zealand, compared with 31.7 per cent who disapproved. Photo / Getty Images
Nearly 64 per cent said they approved of the Government's subsidies to attract big film productions to New Zealand, compared with 31.7 per cent who disapproved. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwis are largely in favour of the Government's subsidies to attract and keep large film and TV productions here, according to the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey.

Nearly 64 per cent said they approved of the Government's subsidies to attract big film productions to New Zealand, compared with 31.7 per cent who disapproved.

But fewer New Zealanders are in favour of the Government's $30 million sweetener to keep the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter open.

Just days after it emerged the Government had paid the cash to the smelter's owners against Treasury advice, 750 New Zealanders were asked for their view about the Government's $30 million payment to the smelter's owners to keep it going. The results showed 47.9 per cent per cent approved because it might save jobs, while 45.6 per cent disapproved because the money would go to a private company.

The taxpayer forked out more than three times as much to movie makers last year than is being spent on keeping the smelter open.

Payments under the flagship Large Budget Screen Production Grant totalled $93.3 million in the year to June 2012, the biggest year ever for the grant. Driving most of that was the $67 million paid to The Hobbit which accounted for $447 million of spending during the year.

The poll results come just a few weeks after the Government decided not to increase the 15 per cent Large Budget Screen Production Grant after a two-year review.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce did announce tweaks to allow smaller productions to access the grant.

"Attracting more TV production and investment in New Zealand will boost the economy and provide greater continuity of work for Kiwis and their families," he said.

Film industry figures say New Zealand's rebate rate has now fallen behind rival production destinations, including Britain, Canada, Australia and South Africa - and the local industry is losing out.

It is estimated film industry jobs have fallen from 6000 to 4000 in the past year. Auckland Mayor Len Brown is seeking a meeting with Mr Joyce to discuss measures to help the Auckland industry survive but a spokesman for Mr Brown said that had not yet happened.

- NZ Herald

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