NZ PM says travel bubble still on the cards
INTERNATIONAL travel could be possible sooner than thought for some states after an olive branch for Australia's friends across the ditch.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning hinted that she would be willing to consider a state-by-state travel bubble with Australia.
Ms Ardern said Australia has indicated it wants to move as a whole, rather than state-by-state, but New Zealand would be willing to consider deals with individual states, but not Victoria.
"The test for us remains the same. And our test could apply state by state or at a federal level," Ardern told Newstalk ZB this morning.
"Australia is really the one who has to make some calls about when they'll be ready."
She told TVNZ that New Zealand would be looking to deal with countries that like them had a strategy for elimination of community transmission and plans to contain any new outbreaks.
"Australia is in that category. At the moment they do have issues in Victoria. If they choose to move state-by-state, that's a matter for them and that will allow things to open up sooner," she said.
"That's one part of it but we will always make that judgement with our safety in mind."
New Zealand has eliminated the virus within its borders and has just one active known case of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently said it would be "reasonable" to expect international travel won't reopen for 12 months.
But he said there would be possible exceptions for New Zealand and other Pacific nations which had the virus contained.
Mr Morrison said that globally the intensity of the virus was "escalating, not decelerating", so it was not unreasonable that international travel may not reopen for a year or more.
"No-one really knows and that's the problem. That's just the uncertainty we have to deal with," he said.
Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told the National Press Club last month that keeping international borders shut for now was "the price we have to pay" for keeping the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
"That means international border restrictions are likely to be there for some time to come. We will progressively and carefully step through what we can do to reopen," he said.
But he left the door open for earlier opening of "green lanes" with some key COVID-safe countries like New Zealand.
"I hope we can see that advance and it will happen faster if Australian states open up to each other faster as well," Senator Birmingham said.
"If we can do those things, well, then, we may be able to have discussions about other parameters, for other longer stay visitors or targeted streams of individuals from nations."
Originally published as NZ PM says travel bubble still on the cards