David Seymour urges Kiwis to see through 'waffle and spin' as Jacinda Ardern hails 'world-first' trans-Tasman travel bubble

ACT leader David Seymour is urging Kiwis to see through Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's "waffle and spin" as she unveils a date for the highly anticipated trans-Tasman travel bubble. 

The Prime Minister will announce the date at 4pm, and Seymour is already anticipating "a whole lot of nonsense" from Ardern about the associated risks and how delays to the arrangement have been warranted. 

"Stand by today to hear a whole lot of nonsense spouted about the potential to be trapped across the Tasman if there's an outbreak, like the risk of something interrupting travel, such as natural disasters or industrial action, never existed," Seymour said on Tuesday. 

"It's waffle, spin and subterfuge. This Government deserves no praise whatsoever for coming to whatever tardy position it does today; the delay has been unacceptable."

He urged Kiwis to "look right through" the Government's messaging. 

National leader Judith Collins said it was "a good thing" the bubble is being announced, but she questioned why it has "taken so long". 

The travel bubble will open up quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia, but each country would retain the right to halt it. New South Wales and Victoria already allow quarantine-free travel for Kiwis, but it's not currently reciprocated. 

The idea of a travel bubble with Australia has been floated for almost a year now. But attempts have been quashed by breakouts on both sides of the ditch, and the Australian Federal Government opting for a new approach. 

It's understood Australia cooled on the idea of having a joint set of rules, which is what New Zealand had been working towards. Officials had concluded 11 rounds of talks with Australia on this proposed model. 

It got complicated when Australian states started opening up quarantine-free travel New Zealanders on their own, rather than nationwide. 

Then in January, Australia suddenly shut off quarantine-free travel for Kiwis in the wake of the Northland community case, which angered Ardern at the time because it left Kiwis stranded. 

The following month it's understood Australia became more favourable towards that approach - that each country should have the right to suspend travel as they see fit. 

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

"If there's something affecting a state, we would just apply the protocols that we anticipate having after, of course, we have started trans-Tasman travel," Ardern said on Tuesday. 

Ardern said she's looking forward to the arrangement getting underway.  

"I'm a Kiwi like everyone else. I have family and I have friends and I have family and friends in distressing situations because we have had this border in place," she said. 

"But equally, I know those family and friends understand that the reason we have prioritised operating the way we have is precisely to get us in the position we're in now. 

"Our public health approach has meant we're now able to take this next step, and it is a world-first. I don't know of any other countries in the world who are maintaining an elimination strategy and opening up with another country, so it is a remarkable thing."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

According to The Australian newspaper, Australian Federal Government and industry sources say the bubble is expected to begin on April 12 or 19. 

Air New Zealand also appears to be ramping up operations with flights between Auckland and Sydney and Auckland and Melbourne available from as early as April 9. 

"I've seen a wide-range of speculation in the media today and I know everyone's very keen to hear Cabinet's final decision and as soon as we've made that we'll be sharing it," Ardern said. 

On Air New Zealand, she said: "These will be decisions they will be making independently. They do not know Cabinet's decisions. They have indicated to us a range of dates they would be ready on. We have not told them the date we will be opening."

The next face-to-face meeting between Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern will take place in New Zealand.
The next face-to-face meeting between Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern will take place in New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty

With the travel bubble in place, Ardern said she's expecting to set a date for a face-to-face meeting with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, to be held in New Zealand. 

"We were due to have our leader-level meeting at the beginning of the year. Our hope, of course, had been to do that face-to-face," she said. 

"I know that we're both keen to get on with that as soon as possible and the venue, of course, is due to be New Zealand, so we're looking forward to welcoming him here at a date that can be mutually decided upon. 

"Those leader-level talks are always incredibly important to both sides. We've wanted to prioritise face-to-face so I imagine that will be something we'll set a date around in fairly short order."