Australia has fired yet another glib broadside at New Zealand with Scott Morrison suggesting his counterpart Jacinda Ardern doesn't want Australian tourists to spend-up large in Queenstown.
The Australian Prime Minister has challenged Jacinda Ardern to get cracking with the trans-Tasman travel bubble - a call the National Party is backing big time.
The tourist-free vibe is brutalising business in Queenstown. Hospitality businesses such as Surreal Bar and Restaurant have been hit hard by the lack of tourists.
"It is pretty quiet," owner Mel Stadler told Newshub. "We pretty much open our doors and haemorrhage money."
"I'd be very happy to see the Australians here," one local told Newshub. "It's about time," said another.
The Australian Prime Minister agrees.
"If the New Zealand Government doesn't wish Australians to visit New Zealand and spend money in Queenstown or Wellington or other parts of the country, that's a matter for them," he told reporters.
"I'm happy for them to open it up as soon as the Prime Minister and her Government would like to do that."
Ardern says recent outbreaks of COVID-19 have held back progress.
"I think you can see that on both sides the Tasman we've been dealing with outbreaks on both sides," she said on Wednesday.
Australia slammed its one-way travel bubble with New Zealand shut following our Valentine's Day outbreak, leaving Kiwis there stranded. The Prime Minister is signalling any quarantine-free travel she does eventually sign-off could make travellers collateral damage.
"When we do move into a trans-Tasman, there will be risks for those who are travelling," Ardern said. "Already we're seeing that people do run the risk of being stranded, but that may just be the reality."
National says stop the dithering - hit go and blow the bubble right now.
"How much money do these pesky Australians spend on tourism?" National leader Judith Collins said in Parliament. "$60 billion! $60 billion!"
And Queenstown is screaming out for every cent.
"It's dreadful. I've got businesses telling me virtually daily that they won't survive," Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult told Newshub. "If we've got a date when the trans-Tasman market is going to open again it will be our saviour."
Morrison says Australians will go elsewhere.
"If Australians can't go to Queenstown I'm hoping they go to Cairns."
There was a slight, but significant, change in language from Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday - building in that risk to the travel bubble rather than a risk-free arrangement.
Newshub understands that shift in tone means the bubble isn't miles away.