Coronavirus: Government 'six months late' to opening trans-Tasman travel bubble - David Seymour

The Government's announcement to open a travel bubble with Australia is "six months late", ACT leader David Seymour says, adding this move isn't new and is something his party has been pushing for months.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a trans-Tasman travel bubble will commence on April 19.

Quarantine-free travel between the two countries has several requirements. Prospective travellers can't be awaiting a COVID-19 test result and they mustn't have had a positive test result in the previous 14 days.

The idea of a quarantine-free travel bubble has been floated several times, but attempts have been quashed by breakouts on both sides of the ditch and the Australian government changing its mind.

New Zealanders have been able to travel to Australia quarantine-free since October last year, however, there have been some short suspensions to this arrangement when community cases have been found.

Seymour says the Government has been "late on delivery" with its announcement, but adds Ardern "couldn't treat us like lucky little prisoners any longer".

"In an extraordinary admission today COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said each country would be making decisions unilaterally. In other words, there is no bubble, New Zealand will just start behaving like an Australian state but six months late," he says.

"Today's announcement incidentally aligns with the policies ACT has been espousing for months - all of them in our COVID Response Plan 2.0."

During the announcement, Ardern said Australians travelling to New Zealand will arrive on 'green zone' flights. There will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days.

Seymour says Ardern discussing 'green zones' at airports "like she discovered something new" is "galling in the extreme".

"Holding up a traffic light system on a sheet of A3 paper like the one epidemiologist professors Michael Baker and Nick Wilson mooted months ago is also outrageous," he says.

"It's been obvious that all these steps were the way forward since New South Wales introduced them in October.

"We know the bubble will work and it will improve the lives of countless New Zealanders and Australians. It's how the Australian states have been working for months and there is no excuse for New Zealand being so late to join."

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty Images

Opposition leader Judith Collins says the travel bubble isn't "job done" when it comes to opening New Zealand back up to the world. She says the announcement was too long coming for families who have been kept apart for over a year and for businesses that have struggled through the pandemic.

"Australia was ready for quarantine-free travel last year, as were our airports. The delay in getting this bubble up and running has been on the New Zealand Government," Collins says.

"This isn't a case of job done, however. This should be the first step in the Government laying out its roadmap for how it plans to safely reconnect New Zealand to the world."

Collins says National believes quarantine-free travel should be allowed from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji, and the realm countries, which are Tokelau, the Cook Islands, and Niue.

Currently, people can leave the Cook Islands for New Zealand without going through quarantine, but New Zealanders can't travel there.

Collins says opening up to these countries would reconnect families and would have the added economic benefit of helping New Zealand's horticulture industry by increasing the size of the Recognised Seasonal Workers (RSE) scheme.

"It's time the Government laid out its roadmap for reconnecting our economy and people to the world."