Friday, March 19, 2021

Kate Hawkesby: Travel bubble would be good PR for floundering Govt


So are we getting a trans tasman bubble announcement this coming Monday?

The jungle drums are certainly beating that way and it would be great timing for the government.

They’d save face after being shown up by Scott Morrison, it would help the PM’s cred after that 15 point drop in the latest preferred PM poll, and it would take the glare off that shocking GDP figure out yesterday.

There’s never been a better time for some good PR for a govt that loves good PR.

 If we do get the announcement Monday, word is it will be mid to late April that the bubble opens up.

That will be a huge relief for tourist operators, hotels, hospo businesses, not to mention families and friends separated for so long by a pricey and inaccessible quarantine system. It will also, crucially, give us a back a sense of normality, of progress, a bit of hope of some optimism of looming prosperity. And for a country now in a recession, we badly need normality and a sense of progress and prosperity.

The fact it’s taken this long and the government’s had to be practically bullied into it, do you think that'll all be forgotten and forgiven once the bubble opens? The shaming by ScoMo, the agitation from business, and airport CEO's, and petitioning by National. There's been so much push and pressure on the government to get this going.

Act's David Seymour says it's all a bit late and a bit slow, that  too many businesses have already unnecessarily closed.. too many jobs have been lost due to the inaction. Act doesn’t believe the government deserves any praise or thanks for finally getting quarantine free travel going, it says the government’s been ‘a needless obstruction’ to it happening for too long.

But I think much of the scorn sent the government’s way over the delay on this will be a distant memory once people are back reuniting with family, or experiencing Australian dollars being spent here. And that’s the goal. Business as usual.

Which begs the question, how many people will actually be ready to travel again as normal?

There’re still those riddled with fear of Covid, after having had the fear message drummed into us for so long, there’ll be those in the business world who’ve adjusted to a new Zoom way of life.. and maybe cut back on all that trans Tasman travel which they may now deem unnecessary.

There will be some who’ve done it so tough through lockdowns that they simply can’t afford those trans-Tasman excursions anymore. More importantly though, we need Australians to come here. To go to Queenstown, and the West Coast, to come to our ski fields, to spend up large on activities, eat at our restaurants and bars, stay in our Hotels, hire our rental cars, buy from our retailers, and get themselves around this country splashing some cash. We’ve put a lot of hope and expectation into this bubble, hopefully we see some tangible benefits of it, real soon.

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.

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