Australian workers are being sought for a large Auckland building project beginning soon, outraging NZ First leader Winston Peters, who says New Zealanders have been snubbed.
But while the Australian recruitment company which placed the advertisement refused to identify the project, it says New Zealand workers will have the opportunity to apply.
The advert placed on the Australian Seek website in late December calls for "expressions of interest" for 80 construction carpenters for a "major construction project in New Zealand to commence in early 2013".
Placed by Perth recruiting company TR7, it seeks carpenters with formwork and roofing experience. It says they will be employed on a fly-in, fly-out basis from West Australia, working three weeks then a week off.
Mr Peters said the advertisement snubbed New Zealand workers.
"This situation is scandalous in that we have an official unemployment level of 7.3 per cent which includes many experienced builders."
He told the Herald he had been unable to identify the project or the companies but "either the Government or a New Zealand organisation is paying top rates for Australians to work here, shutting out any hope of skilled New Zealanders picking up these jobs".
TR7 director Shane Anderson would not identify the project orthe companies involved but said his firm was hiring on behalf of a joint venture between Australian and New Zealand companies.
He understood the New Zealand partner had made moves towards hiring New Zealand staff for the project, which was yet to be finalised.
If the project went ahead "we'll be looking at all opportunities" to hire staff in both countries.
Spokesmen for Fletcher Building and Todd Properties, which are both involved in large Auckland building projects, did not believe the adverts related to any of their projects.
Grant Porteous of building company GJ Gardner, involved in the Hobsonville Pt housing development, was unaware of any attempts to recruit Australians for that project.
Certified Builders Association chief executive Grant Florence told the Herald the market for carpenters in New Zealand was tight and demand for skilled building tradespeople had "just gone crazy".
"It's something that's been coming, it's shortage of trade skills and it's arriving very fast."
While there were some initiatives to address a shortage of skilled building tradespeople in Christchurch "I think the issue is actually going to be in Auckland".
80 jobs for Oz chippies
• Form work and roofing carpenters.
• Pay rate $55-$60 an hour depending on experience.
• Accommodation and food provided.
• Excellent working conditions promised.