A trans-Tasman travel bubble to New Zealand may be widened to include several Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and even China.
In an interview with The West Australian, Neville Power – who was appointed Chairman of the National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission in March – said he has intentions on creating a bubble that would expand wider than simply New Zealand.
“I think there are opportunities within that to look at specific destinations and specific testing – departure and arrival testing – so that critical activities and key travel can get going earlier,” he said.
“We have very significant trade links with Japan, Korea, China so there may be opportunities to restart that.
“Our resources sector relies very heavily on those Asian markets and there may be need for travel there.”
RELATED: What a trans-Tasman travel bubble will look like
Mr Power said the idea of widening the travel bubble to places like Indonesia, a popular tourist location for Australians, would pose “particular challenges” but wouldn’t be considered in the near future.
Australia is China’s sixth largest trading partner and is considered China’s fifth biggest supplier of imports. A total of 25 per cent of Australia’s manufactured imports come from China.
Earlier this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister met for a national cabinet meeting to discuss the workings of a “bubble” that would allow international travel across the ditch.
Mr Morrison told reporters the “bubble” is an important “part of the road back” for both nations, while Ms Ardern agreed saying the travel between Australia and New Zealand would bring “some normality” back to both nations.
The coronavirus outbreak began in China in December, and has infected 82,000 people and caused 4600 deaths.
In Japan, there have been 15,253 confirmed infections and 556 deaths. South Korea has reported a total of 10,806 infections and 2255 deaths.
The idea of a “bubble” has been met with some hesitation by New Zealanders, who questioned whether the trans-Tasman travel deal is “too ambitious” given Australia is still reporting cases of the virus.
“The position that I would take on behalf of New Zealand is that when we feel comfortable and confident that we both won’t receive cases from Australia, but equally we won’t export them then that will be the time to move,” Ms Ardern said on Tuesday.
The logistics of the bubble are still to be discussed, with a launch date still likely to be months away, but Ms Ardern said there wouldn’t be a quarantine period attached.
“I think everyone would acknowledge it would be prohibitive,” she said.
“People wouldn’t travel if they had to stay on either side in quarantine for a two-week period and have to do the same when you return. But there is still a lot of work to be done before we can progress an idea like that.”