After a lengthy meeting with Warner Bros executives yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister John Key said that changes would have to be made to labour relations laws if the The Hobbit films were to be filmed in New Zealand.
“Warners have said the only reason the film may not be made in New Zealand is the risk of further industrial action,” said Mr Key.
“But we have assured them that we intend to do everything in our power to ensure The Hobbit is filmed here, in New Zealand.”
Mr Key said that Crown Law were looking at potential changes to labour relations laws to accommodate the Hollywood studio.
“One option that I’m keen to explore, and that I want us to take a look at, is slavery,” said Mr Key.
Some experts say that the introduction of slavery would reduce the likelihood of industrial unrest during the shooting of the film.
Mr Key confirmed that officials had looked at some of the economic modelling around the use of a slave labour force.
“When you look at the benefits of enslaving people, it’s actually surprising that previous governments haven’t considered it before.
“It’s got some real advantages for the film industry and may help us to attract more blockbusters. Having a force of slaves with no civil rights, and who live or die at the whim of their cruel and tyrannical masters, is the ultimate attraction for a film adaptation of a Tolkien book.
“They can do a lot with special effects, but they still can’t match the realism of people being forced against their will to do battle, and to slaughter others in order to save themselves. The battle scenes will be unlike anything we’ve seen before on the big screen.”
Gerry Brownlee, the Minister for Economic Development, also attended the meeting with Warner Bros executives. He said he would support a move to slave labour.
“This is the boost the New Zealand economy has been looking for,” said Mr Brownlee.
“Businesses are likely to invest more in capital and R&D if they know they won’t have to pay wages, and if they know the people working for them will be flogged mercilessly if they so much as raise their voices.
“Look at the Greeks and the Romans. Their nations were built off the back of slaves, but look at their achievements: law, culture, art, pederasty, to name but a few.
“I’ve already drafted an Order in Council to make this happen.”
Prominent business writer Rod Oram said the move to reintroduce slavery was innovative.
“I have been one of the harshest critics of this government and its lack of vision in planning a more productive and innovative future for this nation.
“But by God, think what we could achieve if we had an army of slaves to do all the work. We could have world class infrastructure, all for the price of a few bits of mouldy bread, some chains, and foul water.”
However, Labour leader Phil Goff was scathing of the slavery plan.
“This is just the same old neoliberal prescription we’ve heard again and again. How can we afford armies of slaves when the government continues to make the cost of living so unaffordable for ordinary people?
“It’s the aspiration of most decent New Zealanders to own their own home, as well as slaves that they can order around, beat or sexually abuse.
“Unlike National, Labour will walk the talk. Those who can’t afford their own servile staff will have access to Working Slaves For Families, and we will offer discounts to those on low incomes who can’t afford the whips, flails, paddles and other gruesome instruments of torment necessary to cower a captive labour force.”
The Prime Minister admitted the slavery plan had not been fully developed or costed.
“Look, it’s still just an idea at this stage. Obviously we’ll have to find a cheap source of slave labour for the plan to be viable. We don’t have conquering armies that we can send overseas to capture territories and enslave entire races, thanks to years of neglect of our defence forces by previous governments.
“So we’ll have to look internally for our slaves. We may even need to change our insolvency laws to introduce debt slavery and peonage. The good news is that the way our economy is tracking our plan ought to deliver us thousands of slaves.”
Mr Key said the Warners executives had not yet made a decision on where the film would be made. But they had expressed interest in the slavery option.
“Imagine a servile workforce with no rights at all, being sold down the river to Hollywood executives.
“How could Warners say no to that?”