Coronavirus: Trans-Tasman bubble viewed as a 'favour' to New Zealand by some Australians

As hope of a trans-Tasman safe-travel zone grows, there is some talk across the ditch that the deal would benefit Kiwis much more than Australians.

With the COVID-19 pandemic effectively wiping out New Zealand's tourism industry, operators here are desperate for both domestic travellers and those arriving from Australia to be able to move around the country and spend money again.

But while a trans-Tasman bubble is being touted as a win-win situation for both countries, according to one article published on ABC's website on Wednesday, New Zealand is set to benefit much more from the deal than Australia.

"They're sort of presenting it as if they're doing us a favour," Dr Jennifer Curtin, professor of politics and director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland, told The AM Show on Wednesday.

Australians account for the largest source of visitors to New Zealand, bringing in $2.65 billion into the economy last year, according to ABC.

And while Kiwis pour in a similar amount of money into the Australian economy, that is only a fraction of the revenue brought in from other sources.

"Their biggest tourist dollar by a long shot comes from China," said Dr Curtin.

According to ABC, Chinese visitors brought AUS$12.4 billion (NZ$13.2 billion) into the country in 2019.

"A travel bubble might just be enough to keep much of New Zealand's tourism industry afloat," wrote ABC. "But $2.6 billion dollars — while welcome — simply doesn't go nearly so far in Australia."

The bubble would mean that visitors travelling between the two countries would not have to go into quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Although Australian businesses may not be as hanging out for the deal with quite the same desperation as many are here, Dr Curtin said politically the fact all our borders are shut should make it easier to push through.

"Domestically, for the Australians I think this works while our borders to everywhere else are closed," Dr Curtin said.  

"We know that Australians have this belief that New Zealand is just a backdoor to Australia and so while our borders were open to the rest of the world there was always that need to put these special visas in place. I think the Australians will view this positively while our borders are closed and give their people an opportunity to have a holiday outside Australia."

Although there were sure to be logistical and practical issues to overcome, Dr Curtin said the two countries have had many partnerships in the past showing such trans-Tasman cooperation was possible. 

"New Zealand and Australia have a long history of being in a travel bubble of sorts," she said.

Although there had been "patchy" moments between the two nations at times, Dr Curtin said it was a unique opportunity for the relationship. 

"This is a really important window, a moment of opportunity to think of going multilateral again," she said.

"We can be leaders in terms of showing a policy, a way this policy might work going forward for other countries."

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the bubble would go ahead once it was deemed safe to do so and when the necessary health and transport protocols have been developed and met.

Tourism operators here are hopeful it could be up and running by the ski season.