New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister has declared they are ready for a Trans-Tasman travel bubble to start immediately, but has accused Australia’s states of being a roadblock to the plan.
New Zealand this week lifted all domestic restrictions after being declared coronavirus-free with hopes increasing that travel across the ditch will soon be opened up.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled a travel bubble is likely to still be several months away, but her Deputy Winston Peters says it should already be up and running.
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“This should have happened yesterday, I said we should have got out of lockdown too a long time ago, and we should have got out of this yesterday as well,” Mr Peters told The Today Show.
Mr Peters says talks with Australia on a Trans-Tasman travel bubble have actually been happening since before both countries shut down in March.
But he says things have stalled because some Australian states refuse to open their borders.
“We’ve run into the roadblock of federalism, so to speak. In your country the Canberra government decides who can arrive but once you arrive it’s a matter for the state governments.
“We have some states ready to go like Tasmania, and others that are reluctant to go, but we have to go at Australia’s speed.”
Mr Peters says they would be willing to start travel to those Australian states that are willing to set up their own bubble.
“It’s very clear that Tasmania’s set to go and we should start, frankly we should not have states being held back by the slowest movers, so let’s get going and let’s have a precedent here.
“The performance, for example, of Queensland, Northern Territory, and dare I say it Tasmania has been superior to New Zealand’s in many ways even though we’ve done surprisingly good, I think we can have every confidence going forward.
“But, you’ve got to start somewhere and basically we’re asking for the handbrake to come off, but it has to be organised out of Australia.”