Ardern exhorts Aussies to visit ‘safe’ NZ

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already begun her Australian charm offensive, pitching New Zealand to Australians as a "safe place to bring your family to visit".

This morning she will do a round of Australian media interviews to persuade would-be transtasman travellers to visit New Zealand.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also likely to visit "relatively soon" for face-to-face meetings with Ms Ardern.

"I’ll be looking to use the opportunity to take Prime Minister Morrison to an area that has previously enjoyed high levels of international visitors and that we want to put back on the world stage."

She would not confirm if this place was Queenstown.

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult told the Otago Daily Times last night he had not had any conversations with Ms Ardern about hosting Mr Morrison in Queenstown, but he would be "delighted" to see him in the Wakatipu.

"And I would be delighted to renew my acquaintance with him given that I used to work with him at Tourism New Zealand when I was deputy chair and he was a consultant to TNZ at the time."

Ms Ardern yesterday announced the transtasman travel bubble would come into force on April 19.

"Today is a new chapter in our recovery," she said.

Across the Tasman, Mr Morrison said the announcement was a "win-win outcome".

"This is an important first step," he said, adding New Zealand and Australia had "led the way" when it came to dealing with Covid-19.

"We will welcome [New Zealanders] back as Kiwis will be welcoming Aussies."

Mr Morrison said it was the first of "many steps" to get back to normality.

Ms Ardern said the arrangement — whereby a travel bubble would be in operation while an elimination strategy was pursued — was a world-first.

She was quick to get in her pitch to Australians thinking about coming to New Zealand.

"We are safe and [I] cannot underestimate how important that is in the Covid-19 world — we are a safe place to bring your family to come and visit," she said.

"Now you have the option, come and see us."

Mr Morrison was also pitching Australia to New Zealanders looking for a holiday.

"After spending all that time in New Zealand, for the past year, I’m sure that many will be keen to get on the plane and come across to Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania or wherever they would like to go," Mr Morrison said.

In establishing the bubble, Ms Ardern also released a new, traffic light system for dealing with potential Covid-19 outbreaks both in New Zealand, and in Australia.

That system is based on three possibilities: continue, pause or suspend transtasman travel.

If, for example, a case was found that was quite clearly linked to the border and it was well contained, transtasman travel would continue as normal.

But if a case was found that was not clearly linked to the border and an Australian state responded with a short lockdown, flights to New Zealand from that state would likely be paused.

And if multiple cases of unknown origin were discovered, flights from that state, or states, to New Zealand would be suspended for a set period of time.

Ms Ardern said although she was "excited" about the bubble coming into force, quarantine-free travel would not be the same as it was before Covid-19.

"Those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’," Ms Ardern said.

"People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak."

There would be no Government assistance to anyone who got stuck, she confirmed.

There are various requirements people will have to meet before they travel across the Tasman quarantine-free.

Would-be travellers must not have had a positive Covid-19 test result within 14 days of their flight, or be awaiting a test result.

Also, those coming to New Zealand could be subject to "random temperature checks".

The opening of the bubble means roughly 1000-1300 MIQ slots will open up.

But 500 of these slots will be kept as contingency spaces, in case of a significant outbreak. 

- The New Zealand Herald

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