COVID-19: Judith Collins pushes for trans-Tasman bubble as Labour claims Australia pulled out of agreement

Judith Collins is urging the Government to open a trans-Tasman bubble despite the Government claiming it was close to a deal last month before Australia pulled out. 

On Wednesday, Collins told The AM Show if she was Prime Minister quarantine-free travel between Australia and Aotearoa would happen "today". 

"I would be opening it today unless there's some evidence that there are any problems."

The National Party is so desperate for quarantine-free travel to resume that it's launched a petition calling on the Government to open the borders.

However the Government already tried that in February. RNZ reports officials confirmed a trans-Tasman bubble was close to being finalised before Australia backpedalled and changed its position.

Minister for the COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins said New Zealand and Australian officials had discussed the draft arrangement text on February 4 but Australia changed its mind, deciding it wanted to be able to make independent decisions.

"We were relatively comfortable with where things were heading, we were sort of on track. Since then Australia's position shifted so we've had to recalibrate," Hipkins said.

It's not just a trans-Tasman bubble the Government is working towards - a Cook Islands bubble has also been in discussion for many months. 

Collins says travel needs to happen now - before regions reliant on tourism such as Queenstown buckle under the pressure.

"We're getting further and further left out of tourism...[businesses] are on their knees."

She told The AM Show it's "all well and good" for the Government to offer businesses a "hand out... but what they actually want is their businesses."