Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Barry Soper: Transtasman travel bubble - why do Kiwis still have to wait?


If there's one thing this Government's good at, better than any of its predecessors, in fact standing head and shoulders above them - it's making an announcement about an upcoming announcement.

The hospitality industry was on the edge of its bar stools, hotels were remaking the beds, the snow field chair lifts were being oiled and more generally the tourism operators were filling up the jet boats, the KaikĊura whales were being brought out of hibernation and the bungy cords were being stretched to ensure they will be able to take the weight of a a desperately needed Aussie influx.

There was an expectation we would have at least had an indication of when we would be enveloped by the Antipodean bubble.

But no, we have to wait now for a fortnight before the Prime Minister will step up to her podium of truth and pronounce we were free to go to see our almost 700,000 friends and family living on the other side of the ditch.

The pressure's certainly been building on the Government to stop looking in the rear vision mirror, started by Scott Morrison who said Jacinda Ardern and her Government were essentially sitting on their hands. Even the conservative epidemiologist, the good Professor Michael Baker doesn't see a problem with transtasman travel.

So what's going to happen between now and when we will finally know when the travel shackles will be unlocked?

The kindly, earnest Ardern's brow furrowed and the smile narrowed as she explained her dilemma in answering that question.

They need to work on contact tracing requirements and the use of the QR codes, any arrangements around testing that may or may not be required, the final framework for alert levels that takes into account multiple states, what people can expect, on what basis would New Zealand shut down if we had cases, Ardern intoned.

They want to provide transparency around that and to make sure they've got the final readiness in place, she preached.

It's waffle, why on Earth all of those things couldn't have been in place by now is beyond most of us who've been listening to the how-well-we've-done sermon for months now and could be forgiven for believing the system's one of the best in the world.

Winston Peters, remember him? He was talking about the state-by-state transtasman bubble last June with his view then it should have started with Covid-light Tasmania whose Premier he had been in discussion with.

Somewhat ironically it was at the same time Peters was advocating wearing masks on public transport!

Barry Soper is a New Zealand political journalist, and has been featured regularly on radio and television since the 1970s. Currently, Soper's main role is political editor at Newstalk ZB, a radio network in New Zealand.


Anonymous said...

No one can risk being stranded in quarantine on either side of the Tasman and copping huge hotel bills. Ardern and Labor Premiers in Oz lock down at the drop of a hat as they pursue their control of the populace. Goal posts keep on being moved and vaccinations will not suffice for the new 'covid variants'. Shameful.

DeeM said...

As usual, when asked a difficult question or one she doesn't want to answer Jacinda turns on her waffle machine, smiles and utters the usual rubbish.
As Barry says, the reasons given for postponing the bubble could and should have been sorted over the past 6 months or more. Does she really expect us to believe that her government will sort out all the excuses in the next 2 weeks!!
Come on Jacinda, tell it like it is. Covid is your baby and you can't let it go. You know that it's the only successful thing you've done in office and if it got away on you now then you would be up shit creek. Another postponement in two weeks? Don't write it off.