National Party leader Judith Collins calls for immediate Pacific travel bubble

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National leader Judith Collins says there’s no reason Pacific nations can’t be part of the new travel bubble now.

National leader Judith Collins is pushing for a travel bubble in the Pacific.
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Collins wants the government to act faster by allowing non-quarantine travel from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

A bubble with Australia had been needlessly pushed back and that should not be repeated now with the safe Pacific nations, she said. Morning report.

The government announced yesterday that it would exploit the state-by-state bubble with Australia from April 19, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned that in the event of a local lockdown, tourists should not rely on the government for bail them out.

Collins said the ‘traffic light’ system announced by the government yesterday was a reasonable way to assess the risk associated with any Covid-19 outbreak in Australia and to determine whether trans-Tasman travel should be halted at any time.

Collins agreed that any decision on travel ultimately had to be based on health considerations and that business interests could not take precedence.

But she said the Pacific Islands had proven they can maintain a Covid-free status and that delaying a bubble in the Pacific would hurt those countries’ economies, as well as New Zealand’s horticulture sector, which depended on it. workers from these countries.

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She said a May 1 date had already been agreed with the Cook Islands and she was puzzled the government had not announced it publicly.

Collins agreed that any decision on travel ultimately had to be based on health considerations and that business interests could not take precedence.

But she said the Pacific Islands had proven they can maintain a Covid-free status and that delaying a bubble in the Pacific would hurt those countries’ economies, as well as New Zealand’s horticulture sector, which depended on it. workers from these countries.

“In the Pacific, in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa there is no Covid-19. If somewhere is safe it is these countries and I do not understand why we do not have a Pacific bubble This is something where the government has to go, ”she said.

But the Pasifika nations should be able to join the system immediately, both to ease economic hardship in those countries and to allow Pacific workers in New Zealand to work in the horticultural sector, she said.

“I think it can be done very quickly. I am very aware that the Cook Islands have been informed that the bubble with the Cook Islands will be opened on May 1, but for some reason the government is not telling them. New Zealander I do not understand why this is being held.

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“As for Tonga and Samoa, they haven’t had a single case of Covid-19 in their country and they have a reputation for being able to prevent it.

“I think it’s really important that we also look at how these countries are extremely affected by the lack of tourism, but also the RIC workers, who work in New Zealand.

“They are absolutely crucial to the economy of these countries. Fiji is another example – they haven’t had Covid in the community for over a year. These are countries where they are asking for help. “

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Morning report she was convinced that the travel bubble was safe and that there was a good working relationship between the health authorities of the countries to keep this going.

She said that an official communication platform was functioning between Australia and New Zealand and that this system was working effectively.

“Basically, we were able to share information between us …

“We are of course quite confident and you will hear epidemiologists and other experts support this decision.

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“But what we are telling travelers is just to be prepared. You will have seen that we have had a number of breaks in the one-way arrangements that we have had with Australia so far and if there is has epidemics, it may happen in the future. “

If there are border-related, well-identified and well-contained cases, travel arrangements are likely to continue, she said.

“If you have a question mark as to what happened and the extent of it, we may have to suspend travel arrangements for up to 72 hours while we collect more information. this is a larger epidemic, we will probably put it on hold. “

A group of ministers, backed by health officials, would decide whether or not to suspend travel in light of the Covid-19 epidemics.

“We will use the group of ministers in the same way as we did for decisions related to Covid which must be taken urgently … We will always be informed by the Director General of Health for our decisions”, a said Ardern. .

The Cabinet subcommittee would include Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, border ministers and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Ardern said.

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