Is the trans-Tasman bubble dead?

It looks like plans for a trans-Tasman bubble may have well and truly burst. While this seemed like a possibility just one month ago, things change quickly in the times of COVID-19. Here are just some of the reasons trans-Tasman travel now looks unlikely.

Kiwis are killing it
At the time of writing, it has been almost two-and-a-half months since New Zealand acquired a COVID-19 case locally from an unknown source. The work put in to practically eradicating the virus from its shores has been lauded all over the world. That work has come as a result of strict isolation rules for anyone entering the country. In these circumstances, and with these results, it is difficult to see how New Zealand could then turn around and allow Australians unrestricted access and risk undoing all of this good work.

Political tensions are rising
When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden last visited Australia, she slammed the Australian government’s ‘corrosive’ decision to deport convicted criminals with limited ties to the country back across the ditch. While the return of criminals to New Zealand was placed on hold during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, it was restarted this week and is hardly conducive to New Zealand extending any favours to Australia.

New Zealand has found someone else
It is yet to be confirmed but the deputy Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Mark Brown, spoke to New Zealand’s The AM Show this week spruiking the fact that it was likely a two-way air bridge between the two nations would be announced next week. It is expected that travellers will not need to complete 14 days of quarantine or managed isolation after entering either nation. “We’re confident we will be able to open an air bridge between our two countries within the next week,” Mr Brown said.

Australian cases
Since the talk of a trans-Tasman bubble was hot, Australia and New Zealand have been on two very different trajectories. As explained earlier, the Kiwis have been very effective, while Australia is once again on the brink with serious concerns in Victoria and NSW. While there are still states and territories that could argue for a bubble with New Zealand, it is still too much of a risk.

New Zealand election
There is simply too much at stake for the New Zealand government. The Kiwi election will be held on 19 September, and if allowing in Australian travellers caused a spike in cases there is no doubt there would be much finger pointing and potential repercussions at the ballot box.

Different goals
Ms Ardern has been very clear from the outset that it was her intention to eliminate the virus from New Zealand, and the country is very close to doing exactly that, with very few active cases still on its shores. On the other hand, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has never claimed that eradicating the virus from Australia was achievable and his rhetoric has centred around how Australians have to adjust to living with the virus. These two very separate goals make it very difficult to imagine a relationship where quarantine restrictions between the two countries are dropped.

When do you think Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand?

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Written by Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.

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