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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern faces trans-Tasman bubble pressure from Collins and Scott Morrison
March 10, 2021
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is under fire from both sides of the Tasman, with both Scott Morrison and Judith Collins putting pressure on her over the highly-anticipated travel bubble.
But Ardern still won’t commit to a date for the two-way bubble to officially open as the Government is still assessing the risk.
She told the House this afternoon that the Government does not “consider it safe to do so” yet.
National leader Judith Collins, meanwhile, has called on Ardern to show leadership and commit to a date for the bubble to come into force.
“I don’t understand why New Zealand is being held back from being able to actually access Australia and to be able to get that money off the Australians and keep our tourist industry going,” she told media.
Previously, the Government has mooted the bubble being opened by the end of March. But that plan appears to have been pushed back after a number of recent Covid-19 outbreaks in Auckland.
Speaking in Parliament this afternoon Ardern also pointed out that there had been a number of outbreaks in Australia as well.
That will come as little comfort to Morrison, however.
When asked by Australian media this morning how far away the bubble was, Morrison said: “That’s a matter for the New Zealand Government.”
“If the New Zealand Government doesn’t 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.”
He said opening the bubble has always been a matter for the New Zealand Government. “I’m happy for them to open it up as soon as the Prime Minister and her Government would like to do that.”
According to Collins, that’s exactly what the Government should do.
The fired-up opposition leader told Parliament the Government needed to move on this issue quickly.
“Open the borders, let people in.”
She said every day the border is not open to Australians, that was money lost for New Zealand.
Morrison made similar comments this morning, saying the lack of bubble was “benefiting our economy – particularly, our travel and tourism industry,
“But if Australians can’t go to Queenstown, I’m hoping they’re going to Cairns.”
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told the House that the Government has not got a specific date when the bubble can open, at this stage.
He said that New Zealand and Australia were negotiating a joint decision-making framework.
“It was the Australians who have indicated that that is not the way they wish to proceed and, therefore, we are having to recalibrate our response accordingly.”
That recalibration includes more of a focus on a specific state’s bubbles with New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Act leader David Seymour has called on the Government to open a different kind of bubble with Australia – a business bubble.
His party today delivered, what he has called, the Covid-19 Response Plan 2.0 – a plan which sets out what New Zealand’s next steps to responding to Covid-19 should be.
This is a system that is already in place in Taiwan, where people can enter the country for business purposes under strict conditions.