Australian Prime Minister says lack of trans-Tasman travel bubble is NZ’s fault and NZ’s loss

“It’s always been a matter for them and I’m happy for them to open it up as soon as the Prime Minister and her government would like to do that.”

Morrison said the two countries had been talking about travel possibilities in the near future, talks he described as being “amicable.”

“Australia is open to New Zealand, it has been for some time – with the exception of a couple of brief pauses in that agreement – and that’s benefitting our economy. It’s benefitting particularly our tourism industry and the aviation sector which has been most hardly hit by the pandemic,” Morrison said. 

The comments came just hours after Opposition Leader Judith Collins released a statement along the same lines, calling for New Zealand to take the next step and open our borders to Australia. 

“We’ve been told for months that a trans-Tasman bubble is being worked on but our borders remain sealed, even though Australia opened to Kiwis without any formal discussion,” Collins said on Wednesday. 

“Both countries have a similar COVID-19 profile and Australia has proven a bubble can work. They opened their border to Kiwis in October and have adopted a flexible approach when there have been community cases in New Zealand. We should take the same approach.”

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was asked about the status of a trans-Tasman bubble by National Party MP Chris Bishop during question time on Wednesday afternoon.

“The timing of the opening of a travel bubble is a dynamic thing, and I cannot guarantee it will be open by the end of the month,” Hipkins said.

He said some details around what should happen if there was another lockdown still needed to be decided.

“Common agreement on both sides of the Tasman about how, why, when the safe travel zone could be suspended and the implications of that has not been agreed.”

In December, the Government announced quarantine free travel to and from Australia would be possible within the first quarter of 2021.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also responded to travel bubble questions by reiterating that talks with Australia have been amicable, and that both sides had made it clear that any decisions would be based entirely on their own country’s health strategies and plans.