National launch petition for trans-Tasman bubble to be opened immediately

The National Party have launched a petition calling on the Government to open the trans-Tasman bubble immediately, allowing two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia.
Its call came as top public health experts who advise the Government on the Covid response made similar comments.

Political parties use petitions both to highlight public pressure and to amass contact details for swathes of potential supporters and donors.

National Party leader Judith Collin says New Zealand should open its borders to Australia immediately.

The party first called for the bubble to be opened right away last week, arguing that the risk was extraordinarily low.

* Covid-19: National says border with Australia should be opened now
* Covid-19: Jacinda Ardern says country-to-country bubble with Australia looks increasingly difficult
* Covid-19: What we know - and what we still don't - about the Australian travel bubble

Theres no good reason why we cant have quarantine-free travel with Australia right now. Australia did it for New Zealanders last October, but our Government wont return the favour, leader Judith Collins said.

It has been many months since any cases in New Zealand's managed isolation facilities originated in Australia, and, outside of some times when clusters have occurred here, most of that country has opened up its borders to Kiwis.

Collins said the bubble should be opened now.

People arriving from Australia, where over 600,000 Kiwis live, take up around 40 per cent of the spaces in managed isolation hotels.

Australia has proven it can be done safely, but after nine months and 12 rounds of talks our Government still hasnt moved, Collins said.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison says hes keen for Australians to come to New Zealand and support our tourism sector, so what are we waiting for?

Ardern has been discussing the policy directly with Australian PM Scott Morrison (file photo).

Nationals policy would require Australians to provide a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure.

It would allow New Zealand to snap back managed isolation requirements should there be an outbreak in Australia.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern originally indicated the bubble could be ready as soon as the end of March, but now says that timeline is unrealistic.

She has expressed frustration at Australia moving from a country-to-country model to a state-by-state model.

Ardern has also been angered by the decision of Australia to pause its own one-way bubble when outbreaks occur in New Zealand, saying if this happened with widespread travel in place there could be a huge amount of people stranded or suddenly putting pressure on the managed isolation system.

Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins said these issues were surmountable, however.

It has been a difficult process, but Im still optimistic about it, Hipkins said.

One of the things that we have to work through is making sure that were absolutely clear about what may happen if the green zone travel was suspended by either Government for any reason, in the context of a much larger movement of people.

So with Australia allowing New Zealanders to travel over to Australia without quarantine, thats still a relatively limited number of people. When we get to the point where you can travel both ways without quarantine, were talking about a much, much larger group of people. And so thats what adds a bit more complexity to it.

Morrison himself has put the onus squarely on New Zealand, telling media it was this Governments choice that was stopping Australian tourists spending money in New Zealand.

If the New Zealand Government doesnt wish Australians to visit New Zealand and spend money in Queenstown or Wellington or other parts of the country, that's a matter for them. Its always been a matter for them, Morrison said.

Im happy for them to open it up as soon as the Prime Minister and her Government would like to do that.


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