'Return the favour': NSW Premier calls on Ardern to open borders

Gladys Berejiklian (left) and Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald
Gladys Berejiklian (left) and Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald
The Premier of New South Wales has called on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to "return the favour" and reciprocate Australia's transtasman bubble.

In a news conference today, Gladys Berejiklian said Kiwis now need to "return the favour" to Australians after Scott Morrison resumed allowing New Zealanders to enter Australia quarantine-free.

She said they've been accepting of New Zealanders for some time and it's time Ardern and her Government "pull their weight" in creating a two-way transtasman bubble.

"I've always hoped Prime Minister Ardern would return the favour to NSW because we've certainly been accepting New Zealanders since October/November last year," Berejiklian said.

She has since put pressure on the New Zealand Government to get moving, saying there's no reason why a bubble cannot exist now.

"I've always been robust and confident about our ability to have a transtasman bubble. I hope that happens sooner rather than later. There's no reason why it can't," Berejiklian said.

New Zealand is considered a "green zone", which allows Kiwis to travel into Australia freely, while the rest of the world is in the "red zone".

Under the rules, New Zealanders who have spent at least 14 days in their homeland can avoid quarantine in Australia.

Australia briefly suspended the transtasman travel bubble at the end of January after community transmission in Auckland.

But New Zealand's current Papatoetoe cluster doesn't worry Berejiklian, saying there have been no previous Covid-transmission issues when the bubble with NSW was originally opened.

"NSW has been welcoming people from New Zealand for months without quarantine. And touch wood, we haven't had a single case. There was just a few days when Auckland had that scare.

"To date we've had no issues. I would hope they would return the favour. I'm happy to be the first state that offers that opportunity."

Australia's bubble reopened to New Zealanders on February 21.

For Kiwis to avoid hotel quarantine in Australia, they have to only meet two requirements.

  • Only visited Australia or New Zealand in the past two weeks.
  • Everyone else on the flight has also only visited those two countries.

It is not yet known when the bubble will become two-way, allowing Kiwis to return from Australia without quarantining.

In December, Ardern announced that Cabinet had agreed "in principle" to establish quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia in early 2021.

But this week, some experts suggested border restrictions would not be relaxed until closer to the end of 2021, when vaccination programmes would offer more protection.

 

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