New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she expects to see Australian state borders re-open before the establishment of a trans-Tasman bubble.
The resumption of ordinary travel between the two countries has been mooted as a first step towards pre-coronavirus business as usual.
Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says slow-moving states shouldn’t hinder the creation of the bubble.
Ms Ardern scotched that idea, saying “it matters” whether New Zealanders are able to move around Australia freely.
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“The states haven’t opened up to each other yet,” she told Radio New Zealand.
“Obviously I would expect to see some of those issues resolved before we’d see them necessarily opening up to New Zealand and you can understand why.
“People want to be able to travel internally in Australia before they’d expect to be able to come across the ditch.”
Speaking later on 1 News, she softened her language, saying the “most likely sequencing” is state borders opening up first.
“I imagine they’ll want to see those issues resolved around their domestic border, most likely first, that’s my expectation,” she said.
STATE BORDERS SHUT
Australian states and territories have slapped restrictions on movement into their jurisdictions.
Western Australia has shut its borders, with only select exemptions available for would-be visitors.
South Australia and Tasmania require travellers to quarantine, while Northern Territory requires arrivals to undertake and pay for their own quarantine.
While those border controls may take some time to relax, Ms Ardern said work on the trans-Tasman bubble was continuing at a bureaucratic level.
“We have officials working on the practicalities of what on the ground, what managing the border, a trans-Tasman bubble would look like and how it would work in practice,” she said.
Ms Ardern also confirmed the trans-Tasman safe zone would need to be established before growing it to include neighbouring Pacific nations that have interest.