New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, has argued that trans-Tasman flights should resume even if some Australian states remain closed.
“We’ve run into the roadblock of federalism,” said Peters in an interview with Nine. “We should not have states being held back by the slowest mover, so to speak, so let’s get going.”
The intervention comes after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated last month that flights between the two countries could resume despite interstate closures.
It also follows a row between NSW, which never shut its border, and Queensland, which has indicated it could remain closed until September.
“Before we went to lockdown, we were talking about getting out of it and having a bubble of success between both countries,” said Peters, who is also his country’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
“We’ve got some states ready to go tomorrow, like Tasmania, and some who are reluctant to go.
“We’re not making this by way of any allegation other than to say we have to go at Australia’s speed.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern similarly indicated that a travel bubble would “not necessarily” have to be across all of Australia.
Last month, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison piled pressure on states and territories to open their borders by saying the closures were “never the medical advice.”
“There is no doubt that those sort of borders do harm the economy, they do harm jobs and it is important that we get those removed as soon as possible,” Morrison said.
The long-standing debate over a travel bubble has been reignited in the last few days after New Zealand all-but declared their pandemic was over, with the last active case having recovered.
The country has now moved down to ‘Alert Level 1’ restrictions which effectively mean the end of social distancing.
“At level 1, we expect the continuation of recovery,” Ardern said. “We will almost certainly see cases here again. That is not a sign we have failed.
“Now we’ll safely be able to fill those planes, fill those buses and cafes will be able to get a few more tables in as well.”