A plan for trans-Tasman COVID-safe Travel Zone

Free travel around New Zealand looks some time off. The freedom to travel to and from Australia sounds good, but it must be some time away at best.

I’d love to got to Queensland some time to visit family, and also to NT, but both states have different border restrictions. I had resigned myself to not going this year at least (I had to cancel a planned trip at the end of this month).

And with Virgin shutting down their New Zealand operations the flight options and costs will be more difficult.

The trans-Tasman bubble sounds ok in theory, but it could be tricky for some time.

From the Beehive:

Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison announce plans for trans-Tasman COVID-safe Travel Zone

Australia and New Zealand are committed to introducing a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP have announced.

The Prime Ministers agreed to commence work on a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone – easing travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand. Such an arrangement would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health.

This arrangement recognises that Australia and New Zealand are both successfully addressing the spread of COVID-19.

Any arrangement would need to take into account state and territory movement restrictions.

“Building on our success so far in responding to COVID-19, continuing to protect Australians and New Zealanders remains an absolute priority,” the Prime Ministers said. “We will remain responsive to the health situation as it develops.”

The Prime Ministers welcomed the early interest of business leaders and other stakeholders in a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone. Officials would work closely with these groups, including the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum, as planning developed further.

“A trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends.

“We need to be cautious as we progress this initiative. Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it’s essential any such travel zone is safe. Relaxing travel restrictions at an appropriate time will clearly benefit both countries and demonstrates why getting on top of the virus early is the best strategy for economic recovery,” the Prime Ministers said.

The Prime Ministers noted they had worked closely together on Australia’s and New Zealand’s respective border settings since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Each country had allowed the other’s citizens to transit on their way home, and to enter the other country if they ordinarily lived there.

These measures reflected Australia and New Zealand’s special relationship, our Single Economic Market agenda, and the long history of freedom of movement between the two countries.

“Our relationship is one of family – and our unique travel arrangement means we have a head-start for when it is time to get trans-Tasman travel flowing again,” the Prime Ministers said.

“Once we have established effective travel arrangements across the Tasman, we will also explore opportunities to expand the concept to members of our broader Pacific family, enabling travel between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island countries. We will work with interested Pacific countries on parameters and arrangements to manage the risks.”

Ardern just said (on 1 News) “New Zealand won’t have open borders to the world for a long time to come”.

Trans-Tasman 2017 MP and party ratings

Trans-Tasman has published their 2017 rating of MPs and parties. Kiwiblog has details (but links to the wrong year).

Average Ratings per Party

  1. ACT 5.5 (-1.5)
  2. National 4.0 (+0.3)
  3. Labour 5.0 (+0.9)
  4. Green 4.8 (+1.3)
  5. NZ First 4.5 (+1.4)

ACT is really the top rated party? Their party vote dropped from 0.69% (2014) to 0.5%.

Ratings for MPs in Parliament up to the election:

Top MPs

  1. Jacinda Ardern 8.5 (+4.5)
  2. Bill English 8.0 (-0.5)
    David Parker 8.0 (+2.0)
  3. Amy Adams 7.5 (-1.0)
    Simon Bridges 7.5 (nc)
    Christopher Finlayson 7.5 (nc)
    Steven Joyce 7.5 (+0.5)
  4. Anne Tolley 7.0 (nc)
    Andrew Little 7.0 (+0.5)
    Trevor Mallard 7.0 (+3.0)
    Grant Robertson 7.0 (+2.5)
  5. Nikki Kaye 6.5 (+1.0)
    Paula Bennett 6.5 (-0.5)
    Chris Bishop 6.5 (+1.0)
    Judith Collins 6.5 (+0.5)
    Julie Anne Genter 6.5 (+1.0)

Top Labour MPs

  1. Jacinda Ardern 8.5 (+4.5)
  2. David Parker 8.0 (+2.0)
  3. Andrew Little 7.0 (+0.5)
    Trevor Mallard 7.0 (+3.0)
    Grant Robertson 7.0 (+2.5)
  4. David Clark 6.0 (+2.5)
    Chris Hipkins 6.0 (nc)
    Stuart Nash 6.0 (+1.0)
    Damien O’Connor (-1.5)
    Phil Twyford 6.0 (+0.5)

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Julie Anne Genter 6.5 (+1.0)
  2. Winston Peters 6.0 (-1.5)
    James Shaw 6.0 (nc)
  3. David Seymour 5.5 (-1.5)
  4. Shane Jones 5.0
    Ron Mark 5.0 (+1.0)
    Eugenie Sage 5.0 (+1.0)

Interesting to see Genter rated ahead of Shaw. She will have tough competition to become the new Green (female) co-leader.