The federal government is prepared to proceed without Victoria to try to kickstart the trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ this year, as flagged by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham.
Speaking at a leadership virtual summit hosted by the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) last week, Senator Birmingham said he still hoped the bubble could be achieved in 2020.
“I still hope that [a trans-Tasman bubble] can be achieved this year, whether it is to all of Australia, or whether it may be that our quarantine in Victoria extends to something that enables a travel bubble to open up from New Zealand to perhaps the rest of Australia,” he said, as reported by the The Australian Financial Review.
“That’s something that we’ll just have to see,”
However, New Zealand’s upcoming caretaker period of government, which comes ahead of the country’s September general election, is expected to present another complicating factor for the trans-Tasman bubble.
“We have to be realistic right now, as Australians look at it from the perspective of New Zealanders and know that what has unfolded in Australia over the last few weeks obviously slows down [New Zealand’s] decision-making and sees them take a higher degree of caution,” Birmingham said.
“Clearly, they’re not going to want flights in and out of Melbourne any time soon, just as Australian states are showing nervousness around what’s happening in NSW.
“That will be a natural extension of nervousness to New Zealanders and it means we’re going to have to continue to show a degree of patience about exactly when we’re going to see that open up.”
The Morison government has largely favoured waiting until all Australians could potentially access the trans-Tasman bubble, at a time when all domestic borders are open.
However, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in July backtracked on a similar position by saying her government is willing to open it to individual Australian states and territories deemed ‘safe’.
“If we came to pass where New Zealand was ready to move and the rest of Australia was ready to move – but we had this quarantine still in place around Victoria – well, that’s an idea that’s worth entertaining: to see if we can manage to work it out with the Kiwis so they have confidence they can travel safely to Sydney, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth,” Senator Birmingham said when asked whether the federal government would green-light the bubble without Victoria, according to the AFR.
Birmingham was also present at the Tourism Restart Taskforce’s latest key issues meeting, where he said that the focus of the government was on JobKeeper support and retaining industrial relations flexibility for the program’s recipients.
The federal government’s October budget will focus on recovery, with Birmingham inviting the Taskforce to put forward recovery ideas.
Moreover, the Taskforce’s meeting minutes revealed that once more state borders are reopened, Tourism Australia will ramp up its marketing to encourage Australians to experience some of the activities that international tourists previously gravitated towards.
Senator Birmingham also invited domestic expedition cruise operators for detail of state approvals with a view to amending the biosecurity orders to allow for small-ship domestic operations.
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