An air bridge between New Zealand and the Australian states of Queensland and Tasmania could've been underway a long time ago if it weren't for the 'jealousy' of other states, the Foreign Minister says.
Winston Peters says both states are safe enough to open up their borders to New Zealand because they, like us, have a very low number of COVID-19 cases.
Tasmania has zero active cases of coronavirus, while Queensland has less than 10. New Zealand has 25 active cases, all of which are in quarantine facilities.
But Peters says despite a strong desire from New Zealand to open up to the safer parts of Australia, their central government has thwarted any progress.
"[Queensland and Tasmania] have been rigorous with their borders," he told Magic Talk's Peter Williams on Tuesday morning.
"We could go with both, but we've got to get sign-off from [Australian Prime Minister] Scott Morrison and the federal government. As you know, they adjudge who comes into Australia, but once they're in Australia the states decide what states they can go to.
"So we've got a bit of a federal mess we've got to deal with."
The Foreign Minister says "we could've been underway with both Queensland and Tasmania a long time ago" if not for states' refusal to say "let's not be jealous here, let's see who could go first".
"We can't wait around for Australia, because whilst Australia has state capacity to open a bubble with us, centralised federal government's dictate is to not do that," he said.
"We can't be trapped with their constraints and the failure of Victoria's health system at the moment. We're just going to look at where we can go and how we can go."
Last Friday, Morrison said there was "no imminent starting date" for a trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
"There is still a lot more work to be done to get to a point of having a trans-Tasman safe travel zone,” he said, according to The New Daily.
"We will hear further from the New Zealanders. It is an issue of interest in terms of how we can engage again with the rest of the world, but I think we will have to be very patient about that."
One place Kiwis won't have to wait as long to visit is the Cook Islands, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
Speaking to The AM Show, Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said he expects an announcement to be made on a travel bubble between the two nations early next week.
Newshub understands travellers will not need to complete 14 days of quarantine or managed isolation after arriving in either nation.