In December 2020 Julie South petitioned the New Zealand Government to allow veterinarians of all salary levels, disciplines and experience into New Zealand to help alleviate the dire veterinarian shortage. Her Get Vets Parliamentary Petition was signed by 1,065 people.
This petition asked that the government provide border exceptions to veterinarians of all disciplines to enter New Zealand as critical and essential workers.
The main reason for this petition was to enable veterinarians who earned less than the government mandated $106,080 (being double the median New Zealand wage) to be able to enter New Zealand to work.
If granted, this petition would put veterinarians on the same footing as human health care professionals and thus mean the New Zealand Veterinary Association would not need to go begging to Immigration New Zealand requesting special consideration for veterinarians to enter New Zealand.
South’s petition was presented to parliament on 9 February by National MP Tim van der Molen – Member of Parliament for Waikato, National spokesperson for Animal Welfare, and member of the Petitions Committee.
As well as the support from Mr van der Molen, South would also like to acknowledge the support of Erica Stanford MP for East Coast Bays and National spokesperson for Immigration.
After receiving South’s petition, the Petitions Committee requested a written submission from her. The Petitions Committee received many immigration-related petitions in addition to South’s Get Vets Petition.
MBIE was also asked to provide a written submission.
The Interim Report of the Petitions Committee (at p13) states in its last para relating to South’s written submission that “… that MBIE has advised that …. vets are now generally being approved under the general Other Critical Worker border exception criterion”. Even though MBIE is making this statement South has been told by several veterinary clinics of instances where their border exception applications have been declined even though they met the MBIE stated criteria.
The Petitions Committee has decided that a Special Debate in Parliament would be the most expeditious way of handling petitions like South’s Get Vets. There were approximately 106,640 signatures across all petitions, of which most related to split migrant families. South’s written submission was one of 11 written submissions made to the Committee.
The Committee members are Hon Jacqui Dean (Chair), Rachel Boyack, Dr Liz Craig, Shanan Halbert, Nicole McKee, Teanau Tuiono, Tim van de Molen.
This Special Parliamentary Debate is scheduled to take place at 3pm on Thursday 13 May 2021. It can be watched live at ondemand.parliament.nz.
South is very appreciative of the support of animal-loving New Zealanders and the veterinary professionals who supported and signed her petition, without whom this special debate might not have occurred.
“All I’m asking for is a simple change to allow veterinarians to have their own essential worker border exception classification so that veterinarians of all experience and disciplines can be granted a visa to help alleviate the human and animal welfare challenges currently being faced by New Zealand’s veterinary and farming sectors”, said South.
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