Flight of the Cockheads

by Ant Stone on July 21, 2009

in Australia,New Zealand,Visas

Have you ever pre-applied for a visa while on the road? If so, you’ll know they always say “don’t make travel plans until your visa is confirmed”. As always, when I was recently applying for New Zealand’s 23-month working holiday visa, I respectably scoffed at the small print. Six weeks to secure a working holiday visa for New Zealand, while based next door in Australia? No worries, mate.

Medical for New Zealand Visa

Pretend for a moment, you’re me. What you don’t realise is, you need a medical, and that medical comes in two parts. The first part consists of a chest x-ray and various tests on two squirts of liquid. One yellow. One red. The second part consists of a forty-five minute hands-on examination. What a thrill. What you can’t work out is why there’s only one Panel Doctor (the only type you can go and see) in the whole of Western Australia, and what infuriates you is that the first appointment isn’t until two weeks after your call, and the second is nearly three weeks after that. This automatically leaves you with four days between the date you get your results, and the date you fly. No worries, mate?

What you also don’t realise is, those results, even though they’re crystal clear and you’ve paid not-a-cent-less than AU$536 for, have to go to Sydney to be mulled over before being forwarded to Auckland. Somewhere down the line, you hope to get an email to say “congratulations, please proceed to NZ”. No worries, mate!

Kiwi Visa

However, when you first rang NZ Immigration they told you you could carry the medical certificates through airport immigration. When you deduced that was a bit far-fetched and rang them again the following day, another operator told you there was no chance you could achieve clearance in such a short time. So, livid, you ring the Panel Doctor and re-explain to them that they had originally told you it was no problem to have the last appointment so close to the departure date. They hold up a shield. You smash it. They put you on hold to conjure their army. You defeat them. Eventually they concede and do the impossible; they bring your second appointment forward. You’ve scored some precious days. You complete the forty-five minute appointment in ten minutes flat, and on their advice you bypass Sydney, and send the results straight to the heart – Auckland. No worries, mate!

But wait. What no one had told you is Auckland have to dither a little, before sending them on to Wellington, where they’ll wait in line a further 4-6 weeks for a Medical Assessor (independent to the doctor who actually jabbed and nudged you) to examine the wad of ticks and swirls, and thus decide whether to let someone else know whether you’ve got AIDS, or worse.

Applying for Australian Visa

Now relate this experience to my entry into Australia which went a little more formally than this: Excuse me Australia, can I come in please? No worries, mate! But have you been in India or any of them nasty backwaters recently? Well, yes sir, but… Don’t you worry sunshine, you just pop into that nice Balinese private hospital and pay a small fee for a chest x-ray and wait for us to get in touch. Oh, OK will do mate. Two days later, poof, one visa.

My once-assured existence in New Zealand is now on the ropes. Gagged by red tape, and beaten by bureaucracy. I’m positive things will somehow work out; I have who seems to be a genuinely concerned young lady on the case in Auckland. But the point remains: Should we, as travellers, really have to put up with this, and similar costly experiences just because some immigration offices can’t produce a more streamlined procedure?

Is there a better way? Should there be some kind of global health register, and fixed costs instead of extortionate monopolies? Share your visa experiences below.

Also, some feedback would be appreciated. This post was born a rant and thus written in fifteen minutes flat, whereas I’m sure you can appreciate, my usual work takes a lot more refining.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anil July 21, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Took me a while to read the title properly, guess I’ve got concordes on the mind. I wish the immigration offices would look at their procedures to see if they’re actually effective. I’m not sure who all of those tests are really helping.


Ant July 21, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I can appreciate the need to check for serious disease. Infectious is self-explanatory, though I suspect they would deter cancer patients from entering the country and utilising a health system that is possibly better than the patients home country. Big moral arguement alert.

I just think the use of private ergo expensive Panel Doctors and a timeline of faceless departments is a pointless waste of time. I’m glad you caught on to the Conchords reference… wasn’t sure how far round the globe they’d made it


wim July 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm
Ant July 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm

@Wim: looks like NZ is coming to me instead!


Carmel August 20, 2009 at 6:48 am

I had always thought getting a Visa for Austalia was a bit tricky, that is the impression I got off some people I know who went. This puts my mind a bit at ease though. Thanks



Ant August 20, 2009 at 8:59 am

Hi Carmel, thanks for the comment and welcome to my site. There’s a trait in travellers to over exaggerate;

We were in the most dangerous place on the hottest day of the year, thankful that we’d got the visa after a complete nightmare in the dingiest immigration office you’ve ever seen. I hadn’t eaten all day and there were more flies in the air than I’d seen in my life!

Sound familiar?!


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