Trans-Tasman bubble: Onus on Australia to sort internal travel first – PM

Restrictions on movement between Australia’s states will need to be removed before a trans-Tasman bubble can be opened up, the prime minister says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on April 02, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern Photo: 2020 Getty Images

Jacinda Ardern told Morning Report she’s been hesitant about putting a timeline on flights between Australia and New Zealand because it’s not a decision solely for this country.

Officials from both countries have been working on the practicalities on the ground, what managing the border for a trans-Tasman bubble would look like and deciding on rules for social distancing and the wearing of masks.

However, a stumbling block is that Australia still has border controls internally, so the states haven’t opened up to each other yet.

“We’d expect to see some of those issues resolved before we would see them necessarily opening up to New Zealand… People want to travel internally across Australia before they expect necessarily to come across the ditch.”

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Scott Morrison Photo: AFP

There had also been “a bit of a blip in Victoria” where they’re working on a few issues related to Covid-19 cases, but overall Australia’s R level or rate of infection is low, Ardern said.

“The last thing either Prime Minister [Scott] Morrison or myself want and we’ve discussed this, is exporting cases to each other. That’s a burden no-one wants.”

Both leaders would need to be be satisfied that the risk was low before there was a decision.

The priority would be getting the trans-Tasman travel bubble right before possibly widening the arrangement to include Pacific nations.

Fiji and the Cook Islands were both keen to join, Ardern said, but Samoa was less enthusiastic about re-opening its borders.

Ardern said one concern was inbound flights from other parts of the world going into Fiji. There would need to be an assurance the borders were only open to the countries in the bubble, otherwise this could be a “crack in the system”, she said.

Number at gatherings may be increased

She hinted the government is likely to extend the limit on gatherings this afternoon after a week that saw just a single new case of the virus confirmed.

Under the first phase of alert level 2 gatherings have been limited to up to 10 people.

Over the weekend Ministers had received the director-general of health’s advice and she would discuss it with Cabinet today.

“It’s not just the numbers, it’s what the number tells us.

“You’ll see today a decision that reflects the positive progress we’re making and then going forward just giving a bit more certainty that if we continue on the path we are how long until we see changes again.”

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