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Death threats, abuse follow Hobbit row

Some actors and unionists at the centre of the row over the Hobbit movie have been given extra protection after receiving death threats.


The most extreme threats have been aimed at Australian union boss Simon Whipp and Actors’ Equity organiser Frances Walsh, but New Zealand actors Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Robyn Malcolm had also been abused, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Because of the threats the union has hired a guard for its Auckland office. Malcolm said she was selling her home and had cut back on some high-profile marketing. She was reluctant to comment this week on any abuse.

Whipp, the Australian-based director of the Media, Entertainment & Artists’ Alliance who has been in New Zealand during the row, said he and Walsh had both received death threats.

Verbal death threats were also left as voice mail messages at the Alliance’s Auckland office, where Actors’ Equity NZ is also based. Whipp said he had lodged a complaint with Australian police.

Redfern police in Sydney said it would take about a week to find out where the threats originated and if they were traced to New Zealand, the file would be sent to Auckland for further investigation.

Changes to labour laws were introduced to parliament on Thursday after Warner Bros studio executives met Prime Minister John Key and other politicians about their concerns over the potential industrial unrest during the shooting of the $NZ670 million ($A515 million) Hobbit movies.

They had threatened to shoot the movies in another country but agreed they would stay here when the government agreed to change some labour laws and give more tax concessions if the studio agreed to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination.

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