There’s been more serious talk about the Trans-Tasman bubble this morning, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talking to the Today Show about what the arrangement could look like and sharing her commitment to making it work.
After plenty of recent public talk from both sides of the ditch about the prospect of a Trans-Tasman bubble happening before Christmas, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today confirmed she is “working hard” to make it happen as soon as possible.
“That’s what everyone said back in May and June!” We hear you say. Which is fair enough, but a lot has happened since then.
The COVID situation in Victoria and Melbourne is heading in the right direction, state borders here in Australia are starting to reopen much quicker than was previously anticipated and overall, the learnings, COVID-tracing and health responses are increasingly becoming more advanced.
All of which, is contributing this time to a much more measured and realistic response to the potential of reciprocal travel bubbles for Trans-Tasman travel and beyond.
In what was a candid interview with the Today show this morning, Ms Ardern started by saying “I think firstly we should acknowledge that we do, as strange as it might sound, we actually miss each other,”
“What we will need to work through is what the definition of a hot spot really means? At what point will Australia say, ‘That’s an area we will put up a bit of a border around and won’t have travel to?” She said.
“That will determine whether or not in our minds that will be sufficient just to keep everybody safe.”
It’s believed the Trans-Tasman bubble could initially work to enable residents of the South Island in New Zealand to travel to low or COVID-free states in Australia in the coming weeks, with Australians potentially being allowed to travel to New Zealand before Christmas.
“There have been a number of states that have had huge success with COVID.
“So much of that comes down to the decisions that Australia chooses to make going into the future.”
“What you can see is that we do want to make it work. We want it to be safe. We want everyone to be comfortable with it and know that we are safeguarding our own strategies as we do it.”
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister
New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Winston Peters had also said earlier in the week that the country was “raring to go”, and that it would be a welcome boost for tourism on both sides of the Tasman.
“We have never given up hope on the bubble plan. We are raring to go and the sooner to get going the better.” He said.
Asked if the bubble could be happening in time for Christmas, Mr Peters had said, “I think it is capable of happening much, much sooner than that.”
“We have worked on it very staunchly for a long time and the real issue is whether or not we can ensure that the protocols work for both countries,” said Mr Peters.
Meanwhile, last Sunday, Federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham told Channel Nine’s Today Show he was ‘really hopeful’ that Australians would be able to travel to New Zealand by the end of 2020.
“We’re working hard to make sure every safety precaution and measure is in place through our airports, our border protections, screening processes, to make sure people can travel safely between Australia and New Zealand without risk of encountering other air travellers that may be coming in from higher-risk countries,” Mr Birmingham said.
“Ultimately, whether New Zealand opens up to Australia will be a matter for New Zealand, but we are working to make sure we’re ready and hopefully we can see those steps taken this year.”
Simon Birmingham, Federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister
Clearly now, the momentum is building, though getting the Trans-Tasman bubble green light will still depend on establishing coronavirus tracing protocols and other systems, especially given Melbourne and Auckland’s second COVID-19 outbreaks.
New Zealand also has its own General election on October 17, which will further go some way to confirming a timeline for a Trans-Tasman bubble, depending on whether or not Ms Ardern and Labour retain their leadership of the nation.
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