National calls on Government to 'pull finger' as it launches trans-Tasman travel bubble petition

National has launched a petition demanding the Government open a trans-Tasman bubble immediately.

The party's leader Judith Collins says there's "no good reason" why New Zealand can't have quarantine-free travel with Australia right now, pointing out that Australia opened its borders to New Zealand last October amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collins likened the lengthy negotiation process so far to having a baby.

"Australia has proven it can be done safely, but after nine months and 12 rounds of talks our Government still hasn't moved," she said.

"Nine months is long enough to have a baby."

Since the pandemic began, Australia has reported just over 29,000 infections and 909 COVID-19 deaths. Two new community cases were recorded in the country over the weekend, breaking a 55-day stretch of no local cases recorded.

But National argues that open borders and quarantine-free travel could still happen safely.

The petition calls for a system where people arriving from Australia would be required to show evidence of a negative pre-departure test within 72 hours of travel, but not have to undergo isolation on arrival in New Zealand. 

Collins said if nothing happens soon, the damage to the tourism industry could be irreparable.

"If the Prime Minister doesn't pull finger and get on with it, we will end up with the death of Queenstown on her hands," she said.

"Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he's keen for Australians to come to New Zealand and support our tourism sector, so what are we waiting for? 

"Our tourism industry is on its knees, a bubble would be the lifeline they need. It's time the Government takes the next step and opens up the trans-Tasman bubble."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said one of the many issues being worked through in order for a travel bubble to open is what would happen if New Zealanders ended up stranded in Australia if there was an outbreak in either country, and the bubble had to be shut down.

"I can guarantee if we had a two-way quarantine-free arrangement, you would certainly hear if we had issues in Australia that caused us to take a pause and shut down flights. You would certainly hear concerns around people being stranded," Ardern said. 

She said further complications arise when a third country enters the bubble, such as Singapore having a two-way arragement with Australia.