NZ dragging chain on Aussie travel bubble

The ‘announcement’ that a trans-Tasman bubble will open in quarter one next year is good news but has come far too late, National’s COVID-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“New Zealanders have been able to travel to Australia without quarantining since October 16, but the same won’t happen in New Zealand until well into next year, costing our businesses and their staff dearly.

“Back in November Professor Michael Baker said it was possible to get a trial bubble up and running with Australia by Christmas – so the Government must answer what is taking so long.

“Much like the Cook Islands non-announcement on the weekend, today’s news gives the glimmer of progress without any real substance to it. Businesses are still none the wiser on when we will see Australians able to enter New Zealand without quarantining.

“About 40 per cent of people in MIQ facilities are from Australia, filling up spots while others wait offshore. Every day that goes by without a travel bubble is another day where people can’t travel to New Zealand for compassionate reasons or to fill critical shortages in industries.

“As Professor Baker has pointed out, we should be much more flexible and pragmatic in calibrating our response to the risk from particular countries, rather than adopting a rigid ‘one size fits all’ approach.

“The Government seems to have very little interest in the ‘traffic-light’ system proposed by Professor Baker and Professor Nick Wilson. That is regrettable. Following the public health guidance has been the Government’s catch-cry so far, and they shouldn’t stop now.

“National will keep pushing the Government to work faster on a trans-Tasman bubble. We need to get on with it.”