Trans-Tasman travel bubble: New Zealand, Australia idea in doubt due to Victoria


Plans for a trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand could be rolled out on a state-by-state level rather than federally.

The worsening spike in coronavirus infections in Victoria means the much-touted arrangement between the two countries is up in the air, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newstalk ZB.

“The test for us remains the same – and our test could apply state by state or at a federal level,” Ms Ardern said.

She refused to make any commitment on when this might happen, saying any moves were contingent on Australia’s fight against the virus.

“We are in a good place at the moment,” the PM said. “Australia is really the one who has to make some calls about when they’ll be ready.”

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Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham suggested last week that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand could be in place as early as September.

However, the escalating outbreak in Victoria has cast serious doubt over whether it would be plausible for widespread travel to open between the two countries by then.

Ms Ardern told Newstalk ZB she was open to the idea of incorporating a travel plan based on the status of different states in Australia.

“Obviously, we won’t be doing that with Victoria while they are where they are,” she said.

“One of the criteria for us is that they need to be where we are in terms of there being no community transmission.”

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The dire situation in Victoria continues to worsen, with another 127 cases recorded today. Picture: David Crosling
media_cameraThe dire situation in Victoria continues to worsen, with another 127 cases recorded today. Picture: David Crosling

If the trans-Tasman bubble was to be on a state level, Ms Ardern said New Zealand would need to ensure that travel routes of visitors were confined to a certain state and that they hadn’t crossed the border at all.

New South Wales will shut its border with Victoria in light of the ongoing resurgence there. The imminent challenge is to ensure the outbreak doesn’t spread to other states.

New Zealand is eager to get tourists back – but only when safe to do so. Picture: Getty Images
media_cameraNew Zealand is eager to get tourists back – but only when safe to do so. Picture: Getty Images

Asked about whether New Zealanders would be allowed to travel to Pacific countries, Ms Ardern said that any plans for a trans-Tasman bubble would also include neighbouring islands that want to be part of the agreement.

“The work we’re doing on trans-Tasman will apply to the Pacific. I’ve never said which will come first. It’s all a matter of both sides being ready and having everything in order,” she said.

“Everything we expect of ourselves is what we’re asking anyone we’re doing quarantine travel with.

“The bottom line is that all that work is under way. We’re not rushing. I don’t think the Pacific should want to rush, and I take that very seriously. I could not live with myself if we were responsible for COVID in the Pacific.”

This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as NZ travel bubble could exclude Victoria



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