The head of the company that produces Outrageous Fortune and Shortland StreetThe Hobbit has made actors Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Lealand "damaged goods" who could now struggle to find acting work.
But John Barnett, chief executive of South Pacific Pictures, blames the unions for not keeping the actors away from the public outcry that has erupted over the possibility of losing the two films overseas.
There's an element of truth in what Barnett is saying, in our humble opinion, but we reckon that it is conditional. Robyn Malcolm is pretty media-savvy, and it doesn't seem that she has had to be coerced to do the rounds of the news and current affairs programmes over the last week. She has looked like a pretty willing participant to us. We wonder though if her advocacy for this latest "cause celebre" has blinded her objectivity.
But Barnett also makes this very interesting observation:
Mr Barnett also criticised NZ Actors' Equity organiser Frances Walsh and said Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, who has fronted the media on the issue, was out of her depth.
Simon Whipp, director of the Australia-based Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, of which Equity is a branch, should have fronted media on the issue, he said.
Of that there is no doubt, as far as we are concerned. Simon Whipp deserves all the opprobrium which has been chucked in his direction, and a whole lot more. He made a power-play on NZ Actors' Equity, which has blown up in his face. It's time for him to front the media and explain, apologise and take his leave. We do not want or need Australian union heavies in this country. His refusal to front the media is very telling, in our opinion; it verges on gutless conduct.
The criticism of Helen Kelly is equally valid. Let's not beat around the bush here; we have just seen New Zealand's most senior union official advocating a course of action which had the potential to COST far more workers their jobs than the number of workers who would have been advantaged. That is a ridiculous situation for a person who is charged with representing ALL workers. Helen Kelly's presidency of the CTU must now be in question.
This has not been a proud week for the union movement in New Zealand, despite what the left would have us believe. We are not going to let them forget it!