International competition for WA's lucrative mine jobs has stepped up with thousands of New Zealanders offering to pay their own fly-in, fly-out costs across the Tasman.
New recruitment company Reciprocus says it has about 3000 New Zealanders ready to pay their own way to and from Perth before and after every shift. Under its recruitment model, the employer would only pay for transport to and from Perth to the project.
Director Douglas Foster said Qantas agreed to provide discounted international fares for the workers, who would seek five weeks on for a fortnight off.
"If you look at what people are earning in New Zealand and what people earn on the mines, the cost of an airfare is nothing," he said.
"Workers in New Zealand are struggling, so for them they are better off coming here and paying for the flights."
New Zealand media reported that Reciprocus seminars in Kaikohe and Ruakaka this month attracted more than 2000 job seekers wanting to work on Australian mines, including mechanics, diesel fitters and truck drivers.
New Zealand-born Mr Douglas, who has worked at WA mines for two decades, says he has already placed several hundred countrymen at WA projects.
He attributed the strong interest on the ability of New Zealanders to earn good salaries without having to uproot their families.
He expected strong demand from contractors partly because New Zealanders do not need visas to work in Australia.
The move could boost a growing influx after a record 52,000 New Zealanders moved to Perth in the past 12 months.
UnionsWA condemned the move, claiming New Zealanders who paid their own airfares would have an unfair advantage over east coast job seekers.
Secretary Simone McGurk feared contractors would favour workers who paid their own way.
She favoured international recruitment when peaks in demand for workers could not be met locally but feared the new model would undermine opportunities for Australians.