Peter Dutton has talked up a so-called “trans-Tasman bubble” that would allow international flights to resume between New Zealand and Australia.
The Home Affairs Minister said the countries were at a “comparable stage” in their fight against coronavirus.
His comments follow similar remarks made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, but which have been played down by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sky News on Sunday, Minister Dutton also said the pandemic would have a lasting effect on airport and border checks.
“We are looking at what the border system will look like in six or 12 months’ time,” he said. “There will be an additional overlay of biosecurity at our airports for years to come. That would be a natural response.
“We don’t know what will happen next flu season. We don’t know whether there will be another pandemic in 12 months or 12 years’ time.
“We need to look at the technology we have got available and look at assessing that threat as the human threat crosses our borders.”
Last week, PM Morrison raised hopes that international travel with Australia’s closest neighbour could start well before other countries.
“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” he said.
However, his counterpart was less enthusiastic, with PM Adern’s spokesperson telling reporters, “Our current border restrictions and quarantine arrangements are the most important protections we have to stop the virus re-entering New Zealand and taking off again.
“So they will only be lifted when we are confident it is safe to do so. While nothing is going to happen immediately, the idea has merit as something that might be possible down the track.”
On 27 March, Prime Minister Morrison announced that all passengers landing in Australia would be transferred from arrivals to a hotel to complete their 14-day isolation period – with the Defence Force checking people comply with the measures.
This was in addition to a ban on anyone arriving in the country who was not a citizen or permanent resident, as well as an effective ban on any Australian leaving the country.
Back then, it was estimated that 85 per cent of cases of coronavirus arrived directly or indirectly from overseas. The subsequent action caused a dramatic reduction in the number of cases in Australia.