PM hints at start date for 'trans-Tasman bubble' travel

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted at a date for a potential “trans-Tasman bubble” to open allowing Aussies to head across the ditch.

Mr Morrison had a meeting with National Cabinet on Tuesday, which included New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern via video chat.

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He told reporters after the meeting he’s been in discussion about travel between New Zealand and Australia with Ms Ardern “for several weeks”.

“It is important to flag it because it is part of the road back,” Mr Morrison said.

“At some point both Australia and New Zealand [will] connect with the rest of the world again, the most obvious place for that to start is between the two countries.”

Returning overseas travellers walk towards waiting buses at Sydney Airport.
Travellers from overseas arrive at Sydney Airport. Source: Getty Images

Mr Morrison suggested flights between the two countries could occur at the same time Australia allows domestic travel.

“There was a bit of friendly banter about whether Kiwis would be welcomed into Western Australia before those from the east coast were,” he said.

“That is still to play out. But there is, I think, no doubt a big benefit once we're back in that situation, where people hopefully, by the end of term school holiday, if they are able to go and have a holiday on the Gold Coast or in South Australia or... wherever it happens to be out of one's home state, let's hope that is possible because that will be great for those places in terms of the tourism impact.”

Term two in most Australian states and territories finishes in either the last week of June or first week of July.

Passengers are seen at Sydney International Airport wearing face masks.
Travel internationally has been closed for weeks. Source: Getty Images

Yahoo News Australia asked aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas whether he felt it was realistic to see the flight path opened again by this date to which he replied, “Absolutely.”

“What we’ll probably see is state borders open up and the end of people being in 14 days of self-isolation when visiting across states,” Mr Thomas said.

“We’ll either have gotten rid of the virus or it’ll be very low. We’ll also see New Zealand keep its borders closed but only open to us and vice versa.”

A Qantas A380 takes-off at Sydney Airport.
It's hoped international travel between Australia and New Zealand could re-commence in July. Source: Getty Images, file

Mr Thomas said the opening of the international trans-Tasman borders was “beneficial to both”.

“I think it’ll be country by country until we get a vaccine,” he said.

“We won’t see WHO (World Health Organisation) come in and tell us all international borders are open.

“What will happen is we might see Singapore, and I know they’ve had a second wave of infections but have been quite vigilant, open its borders and we begin flying there. Then we might see us open up to the Pacific Island nations like Tonga.”

A masked man waits for a bus on the first day of the easing of restrictions in Wellington.
A man waits for a bus in Wellington as New Zealand eases its coronavirus restrictions. Source: Getty Images

Ms Ardern, who on Tuesday became the first world leader to join an Australian Cabinet meeting in more than 60 years, said the move would take some time to work through.

"When we feel comfortable and confident that we both won't receive cases from Australia, but equally that we won't export them, then that will be the time to move," Ms Ardern told reporters in Wellington.

"Neither of us want cases of COVID coming between our countries."

Australia has recorded around 6,800 infections and 96 deaths, and New Zealand 1,137 cases and 20 fatalities.

– with Reuters

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