Australia has opened its borders to New Zealanders, why aren’t ours open to our neighbours?
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the only thing holding up a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand is our Government’s lack of urgency, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.
When asked by media today on how far away a full travel bubble with New Zealand is, Prime Minster Morrison said: “I’m happy for them to open it up as soon as the Prime Minister and her Government would like to do that.”
Prime Minister Morrison’s assessment that it was up to Jacinda Ardern whether Australian tourists spend their money in Queenstown or Cairns should be a wake-up call to our Government, Ms Collins says.
“Our Government has been dragging its feet for nine months on a travel bubble while Australia has been good to go.
“Australia showed us the risks associated with a two-way bubble are minimal and manageable. They opened their border to New Zealanders in October and it has worked.
Tourism NZ estimates that a trans-Tasman bubble, combined with domestic tourism, would see tourism spend in this country return to 70 per cent of pre-Covid levels, Ms Collins says.
“A two-way travel bubble would be a major boost for New Zealand’s tourism sector, which has been all but left for dead by Jacinda Ardern’s Government.
“We need to get this bubble up and running before winter to give places like Queenstown the opportunity to have a bumper ski season.
“New Zealand could be in the unique position of being the only external tourism market for Australians to visit – Australians who have been stuck at home for 12 months.”
You can find Scott Morrison’s comments to media here at appox. 24.30.
Australia has shown how it can be done.
It allowed New Zealanders to enter without the need for managed isolation, required that when there was community transmission here and let us travel freely again when that was no longer an issue.
The closed border is threatening businesses and it is also having a very high human cost.
Trans-Tasman travellers are taking up a lot of MIQ beds that could be freed up to allow New Zealanders and essential workers from countries where Covid-19 is still in the community to come home.
I know a family who are trying to get their son home from Australia to visit his terminally ill father.
I know several others with children and grandchildren they can’t visit.
I was supposed to be the marriage celebrant for a couple last April. Their families and lots of friends were travelling from Australia and the lockdown cancelled the wedding. It was rescheduled for this month but the requirement for the Australian guests to endure two weeks in MIQ led to a postponement and they are now hoping to be able to go ahead next January.
I know two other couples with family and friends on both sides of the Tasman who won’t commit to wedding plans until the borders open.
If I can list this many without having to think, how many tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of other people are similarly frustrated by the government’s failure to come up with a plan to allow the border with Australia to open safely.
There is no community transmission of Covid-19 there and none here.
Why are we waiting when the high human cost is anything but kind to people and the economic cost is so high, possible terminal, for so many businesses?