The prospect of trans-Tasman flights restarting moved a step closer after it was confirmed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will dial into Australia’s national cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
On the weekend, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters hinted a deal could happen, calling the countries “two of the most integrated economies in the world”.
Ardern will join the call for at least half an hour, which will include representatives from all of Australia’s states and territories.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said the meeting would be used to discuss a partial lifting of coronavirus restrictions, with an announcement to come later this week.
Minister Peters has been a long-time advocate of the plan, and on the weekend said, “Officials in both countries are considering all aspects of the trans-Tasman concept, and planning how this could happen more broadly. A trans-Tasman bubble needs to be carefully managed as we move out our COVID-19 restrictions.”
Last week, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton added to the speculation by remarking that the countries were at a “comparable stage” in their fight against coronavirus.
Previously, Prime Minister Scott 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.
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.