Qld tipped as first to fly to NZ
As New Zealand continues to ease restrictions after announcing they no longer have any active coronavirus cases, all eyes are on when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will open the trans-Tasman travel bubble across the ditch.
But as the majority of state and territory borders around Australia remain closed, with premiers in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory holding firm on a reopening date, New Zealand has voiced which state it might consider opening a travel corridor with first.
New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has announced his choice on which states would be first in line with the trans-Tasman travel bubble - and has pointed to start with Tasmania and even Queensland.
"Rather than being confined or constrained by the states that are not succeeding with COVID-19, why don't we just deal with Tasmania for example and Queensland, and start there?" Mr Peters suggested, according to Stuff.
"If we do, it'll set a serious precedent. We should have started that, as I said, yesterday. There is no reason at all for us not to have started it."
Despite there being no direct flight between Tasmania and New Zealand, Mr Peters said there's no reason a route couldn't be put in place.
"In this start-up experience, what's critical is that Tasmania's successful when it comes to COVID-19 and I think we've got to start somewhere, so why not?" Mr Peters said.
The Deputy Prime Minister blamed the ongoing border debacle between states and territories as the reason for the trans-Tasman travel bubble still not being in place.
"The trans-Tasman bubble should have been open, like level 1, yesterday," he said on Tuesday.
"All we need to do is to get the governments to agree."
Speaking on Channel 7's Sunrise program on Wednesday, Mr Peters said the travel bubble shouldn't be halted by states considered as "slower movers", but pointed to Victoria as a "bit of a worry".
"Let's not restrain the movement between our two countries based on the slowest state in Australia," he said.
"The performance of Queensland, Northern Territory and, dare I say it, Tasmania, has been superior to New Zealand's in many ways even though we've done surprisingly good."
Last month, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein pointed to the idea of opening a direct flight to New Zealand, which hasn't been in place since the late 1990s.
"The discussions have been very positive and I have no doubt an Australian-New Zealand travel bubble will be established once international borders can be relaxed and I'm working hard to get Tasmania on that route," Mr Gutwein told The Examiner.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poured cold water on a floated July 1 start for flights across the ditch, insisting a date had not been set for the travel bubble.
Ms Ardern said both countries would need to be in a comfortable position before flights could commence.
"At the moment we just need to make sure they're (Australia) in a similar position to us in terms of how they're tracking for cases," she told The AM Show on Tuesday.
"We have to make sure that we feel that we are not losing any of our gains by making the decisions that we're making - different (Australian) states are in different positions at the moment.
"We're working on a framework at the moment that would help us not just with Australia, because we might need to make these decisions with other countries in the future."
Ms Ardern said that preparation is key when opening the borders to another country, but noted her focus was on Australia and not the Pacific.
"We have not put a timeline on it because it will come down to what the data and testing is telling us," she said.
"We almost certainly will see cases here again, and I do want to say that again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus.
"But if and when that occurs we have to make sure, and we are, that we are prepared."
Originally published as Qld tipped as first to fly to NZ