Aussie outrage over kiwi labour

By Amelia Wade

Big pay packets for mining jobs across the ditch are attracting the low paid and unemployed. Photo / Thinkstock
Big pay packets for mining jobs across the ditch are attracting the low paid and unemployed. Photo / Thinkstock

More than 1000 New Zealanders have applied for lucrative "fly in, fly out" work in Western Australian mines but unemployed Australians are fuming about it.

Fat pay packets of up to $150,000 a year and solid work were promised at seminars held in towns at the top of the North Island last month.

The meetings, held by a recruitment company, pitched the idea of commuting to Australia to work in the mining, gas and oil industries.

But Australian Joe Valentine, who has been looking for mining work for 19 months, says locals should come first.

"It's just bringing in cheap labour from overseas to work in our mines. They don't give a rat's arse about Australian workers, the government doesn't give a rat's arse about Australian workers," he told Channel 7's Today Tonight current affairs show this week.

"How dare they say there's a shortage of labour when people are willing to work in the mines.

It's bullshit, it really is."

The programme said Australian jobs were being sold off exclusively to New Zealanders, with a recruitment agency told to find 60,000 Kiwis to take high-paying fly in, fly out mining jobs.

They said it came on the back of mining magnate Gina Rinehart's plan to import 1700 foreign workers to fill jobs on her iron-ore project in Western Australia.

The recruitment company, Reciprocus, said it was pitching to New Zealanders because Western Australia had a labour shortage. The Government said the lack of workers was threatening the resources boom.

But Mr Valentine called the labour shortage "rubbish". The trained radio tradesman said he had a wife and two children to support and that he hadn't made a mortgage payment in 18 months.

Australian recruiter Sarina Russo told the programme there were 600,000 "Aussie battlers" looking for work.

"Australians have a right to be angry, but with anger there should be motivation. They should look at themselves and say, 'What am I doing to get into this opportunity?"'

One of the co-founders of Perth-based Reciprocus, Edward Rihari, said they had not received any angry calls or emails from frustrated Australians. The only time they had heard of this was in the Today Tonight segment on their company.

Since the firm's initial meeting in Kaikohe two weeks ago, when more than 600 packed the town's hall, Reciprocus has received more than 1000 applications.

"The response has been overwhelming, we're absolutely gob-smacked at the interest and support," said Mr Rihari.

Successful applicants would spend five weeks in Australia, then be flown home for a fortnight. They would be paid in New Zealand dollars, into New Zealand bank accounts.

Mr Rihari said Reciprocus aimed to get the first lot of Kiwis off to Perth in about a month.

Most of the applications had come from the Far North and Northland, but the recruitment company had also received some from Auckland, Tauranga, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.

A few had even come from New Zealanders based in Australia who would like to move back home so they could "fly in and fly out" for work, said Mr Rihari, 45, who founded the firm with David Whangapirita, 47, formerly of Gisborne.

- NZ Herald

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