Winston Peters hopes trans-Tasman bubble starts before September, confirms Government looking at Pacific nations

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says the Government is still making progress on the trans-Tasman bubble and is looking at arrangements with Pacific nations. 

COVID-19 continues to ravage the globe, with more than eight million cases worldwide. Before Tuesday's two new cases at the border, New Zealand hadn't seen a new infection in 24 days and didn't have a single active case.

Work has been ongoing for weeks on developing arrangements so that Kiwis could travel to Australia and back without quarantine measures. However, while New Zealand is seeing success in eliminating the virus, Australia continues to record cases.

Last week, Peters told Magic Talk that we should look at dealing with arrangements state by state, such as with Tasmania or Queensland. He told Peter Williams on Tuesday that there has been some progress since then, but things are largely in the hands of the Aussies. 

"I am delighted to tell you we are making progress, I think. It is difficult for me to forecast some of this as it lies substantially,  in the case of the trans-Tasman bubble, in the hands of the Australia federal system and state by state, an acceptance by their country's Prime Minister, Morrison, that a state could have a start without the whole country having to have a start."

Asked if a bubble will be arranged before September, Peters said that was his hope. 

"I am saying we should be in a relationship with some Australian states now in terms of the trans-Tasman bubble and yes, I hope it does happen a long way before September and the reason is the quicker we reconstruct this economy and bring about normalcy, the quicker we will make a recovery."

There's also been talk of a bubble with the Pacific Islands. The Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, told Newshub earlier in June he wanted to open his borders to Kiwis tourists once we entered alert level 1 - which we are now in. The islands haven't seen a case and rely on tourism from New Zealand. 

Peters confirmed the Government is looking at those islands within New Zealand's Realm, which includes the Cook Islands and Niue.

"We are looking at the Realm countries as well. There are, though, a lot of complicating issues which you don't see in most of the media reports. Guaranteed maritime securities, guaranteed internal hospital medical procedures should there be a breakout.

"The last thing we want to do is be the conveyor of COVID-19 to any of these islands. We are working hard on these regimes and protocols as we speak. We are not putting them off."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show on Monday that thought had to go to the implications of having multiple two-way bubbles intersecting.

"The Cook Islands has to be happy to open with New Zealand, and also doing a little bit of thinking around whether or not they would be happy with the trans-Tasman arrangements as well. It's a bit of making sure we can make that whole system work when we open up those borders. 

"Even if they say 'yes, let's open to New Zealand', if New Zealand has people coming in from a state of Australia, they have to be happy with that too. And we have to be happy with that."

New Zealand's border is currently closed to anyone but New Zealanders and their close family. Some exemptions have been made, such as for Avatar film crew.