Australia is planning to open borders between New Zealand and NSW

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  • Post last modified:December 20, 2023

Australia has finalised a deal for a limited travel bubble that would allow people from New Zealand to travel to New South Wales and the Northern Territory, with flights across the Tasman expected to resume in a fortnight.

Key points:

  • New South Wales and the Northern Territory will accept New Zealand arrivals from October 16
  • The Federal Government says the move is stage 1 in a more comprehensive travel bubble
  • New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says it is still too early to let Australians into New Zealand

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern earlier Friday, agreeing that New Zealanders could visit the jurisdictions from October 16.

However, Ms Ardern is yet to agree to allow Australians into New Zealand, and has warned Kiwis eager to visit Australia they may still have to quarantine upon their return.

Announcing the news, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said stage 1 of a travel zone with New Zealand would see one-way quarantine-free travel into NSW and the NT.

“This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries, not just that state and that territory,” he said.

“This will allow New Zealanders and other residents in New Zealand who have not been in an area designated as a COVID-19 hotspot in New Zealand in the preceding 14 days to travel quarantine-free.”

Mr McCormack said the Government was hopeful travel arrangements would be expanded, saying states and territories that agreed to the Commonwealth’s hotspot definition would be able to participate.

“South Australia are very close to agreeing to these terms and agreeing to be the next jurisdiction to come on board,” he said.

“They will certainly probably be the next cab off the rank.”

Under the hotspot definition employed by the Government, an area in New Zealand will be allowed if it has a rolling three-day average of fewer than three cases per day.

By allowing New Zealanders coming into NSW and the NT to skip hotel quarantine, Mr McCormack said an additional 325 spaces in Australia’s quarantine capacity would be freed up.

‘Still too early’ for quarantine-free travel to NZ: Ardern

Mr McCormack said the ball was in New Zealand’s court as to whether Australians,or New Zealanders returning from their Australian visit, would be allowed in without quarantine.

“I know if Jacinda Ardern wants to have Australians going into New Zealand, that will be up to her,” Mr McCormack said.

“I know Prime Ministers Morrison and Ardern have had those discussions, it’s very much in Prime Minister Ardern’s court at the moment.”

Speaking earlier, Ms Ardern said it was still too early to allow entries into New Zealand from Australia.

“We have resisted that because we want to keep New Zealanders safe,” she said.

“We will not open the borders for quarantine-free travel with Australia until it is safe to do so, because doing it too early risks losing all of the freedoms that we already have in our economy.”

She also warned people eager to make the trip across the ditch they may still have to quarantine upon returning home.

“I want New Zealanders to keep in mind that even if Australia may open up borders one-way so Kiwis can go there without quarantine, it does not mean that they won’t have to go into quarantine on return,” she said.

“At this stage they will.”

Mr McCormack said allowing New Zealanders into Australia could assist with farming and agriculture sectors, suggesting fruit pickers and shearers who come to Australia could find love on the homestead.

“Shearers may well avail themselves of this because we’ve got a wool clip that’s needing to be shorn, we’ve got work to be done with agriculture if that opportunity is there too and as I said the other day, they might even come over here and find love,” he said.