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Dutton talks up ‘trans-Tasman’ bubble

written by Adam Thorn | April 27, 2020

Air New Zealand has been ranked Australia's most reputable company, ahead of Qantas in second place. (Rob Finlayson)
A trans-Tasman bubble could be the first step on the road to recovery for Qantas and Air New Zealand’s international networks. (Rob Finlayson)

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.

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Comments (7)

  • Robert


    I don’t think this makes much sense. Why a bubble with one country and not others with low numbers, like Taiwan and Sth Korea, for eg. As much as we have cultural links with NZ, this notion of special treatment to the exclusion of other countries with objectively similar health indices seems silly. And frankly, if we did keep the border with NZ closed longer, as a small economy, would the economic impacts be that substantial? My preference would be to keep the restrictions on international travel in place till we can get this thing under control properly.

  • Darren


    It would make sense that any country/state/destination be opened up when it has less than say 100 active (and isolated) cases. With GP testing available and airport temperature checks the risk of infection is so low at that point it’s not worth ANY economic restrictions.
    As of today 27/4 we are already there within all states of Australia except NSW. I’m surprised domestic travel hasn’t started up?

  • Ron Hunter


    As a couple hoping to attend a grandson’s wedding in December , we would like to know the conditions for travel to and from NZ as soon as possible ….for example do we have to leave 14 days before the wedding to go into self isolation , or do we need a clear coronavirus test done within a fortnight of travel, and what about the return conditions. it looks like six weeks may have to be set aside for a one day wedding !

  • Ken


    We do not really have cultural links with New Zealand, which rejected its opportunity to join Australia over a century ago; various governmemt have allowed New Zealanders and others into Australia without reference to the voter.

    Many nominal New Zealanders live here, but very few Australians live there. It’s a place to visit, but not to live. It’s the opposite for them and has been been made easy for them by hovernments which will take no notice of the Australian people’s opinion.

    • Jacob



      Without New Zealand or China, the Australian tourism market will collapse. Its in both Australia’s and New Zealand’s best interest to align themselves closely and work through this.
      Its got nothing to do with New Zealand not becoming a state with Australia in 1901.

  • Mark White


    If this trans tasman bubble goes ahead we would need to be wary of people coming from outside the bubble and going from one country to another without quarantining. With a second wave happening in Japan, South Korea, China and Singapore means that we cannot accept anyone from these countries for many months ahead. Likewise from countries that have poor reporting of covid 19 cases or reports that cannot be relied upon or verified eg Iran, India,Pakistan and many middle east and south American countries.

  • Chris G


    As I kiwi I think the ANZAC bubble makes perfect sense when the time it right which I think could be mid to late June. On a population basis our numbers are looking good with very low rates of new infection and in the case of NZ no community spread. We see in Australia that some states are having zero new cases and in NZ it is single digit and linked to other infected persons.

    I think the decision to open the bubble would be based on a period of no new cases and ongoing community testing.

    While travelling as another level of assurance there maybe a screening process prior to boarding the flight but if there is no community spread I see little need for this. Airports will have to review passenger processing so that passengers arriving from other countries (who need to go into quarantine) do not come into contact with those arriving from the ANZAC bubble.

    This is a good start point for both countries to develop procedures we are comfortable with and then we can extend to other countries such as Taiwan and Pacific Islands when the meet the standards agreed upon..

    Most importantly it will give both of our countries tourist related industries a much need boost but also the opportunities for families to catch up with each other.

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