Topics: COVID-19, Trans-Tasman Bubble, New Zealand arrivals, Hotel quarantine.
Ali Moore: Let’s dive into this Trans-Tasman bubble. The first New Zealanders were touching down on Friday, but originally the bubble, well, it is only supposed to have been between New Zealand, New South Wales, and Northern Territory, but what’s happened is some Kiwis have touched down and then hopped off to somebody- somewhere else. So, in fact, we now have five people who travelled from New Zealand in hotel quarantine at their own expense after travelling to Adelaide Airport in recent days. Simon Birmingham is the Tourism Minister. Good morning.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Ali. Good morning to your listeners, and good luck to the Years 12’s.
Ali Moore: Yes. Look, has this just been an absolute mess and a complete lack of forward thinking about what would actually happen, in all practicality, when people came from New Zealand?
Simon Birmingham: No, Ali, it hasn’t. We’ve had New South Wales and the Northern Territory open up freely to two arrivals from New Zealand, and they’ve done so on the basis that New Zealand now just has one active case, and a three-day rolling average of new cases is zero. So, they’ve done so on good, sound health grounds. Now, for other states, they are able to treat arrivals from New Zealand just the same as they’re treating arrivals from any other country of the world. And so, if people land in New South Wales, spend 14 days in New South Wales, and then come on to SA, well then, of course they’ll be treated like an arrival from New South Wales. But if they land in New South Wales and decide they’re going to head straight to SA, well then they’ll be treated like anybody who happened to arrive on any other international flight that arrives in SA.
Ali Moore: And are you sure that the five people who are waking up in hotel quarantine here today knew all that?
Simon Birmingham: Yes, and I am sure, having caught a good number of domestic flights myself to and from Canberra in recent times, that there are ample warnings for individuals as you are going through airports, getting on planes, booking your ticket, logging in to get your boarding pass; at every step of the journey there are basically warnings telling you that you travel between Australian states at your own peril at present, that there are different border restrictions in place, and you need to check in advance the conditions that will apply to you.
Ali Moore: But do you understand, say, the anger from- certainly, let’s look at the Victorian Premier and Daniel Andrews, you know, he’s got 65 of these 100 Kiwis that have come over since this travel border opened, and he specifically did not want to be involved in this and have these people come, considering what he’s dealing with.
Simon Birmingham: Let’s step through this then. The AHPPC, the body that brings together the Nicola Spurrier’s of the country, together with Brendan Murphy and the team right across the country, including the Victorian Chief Public Health Officer, have discussed this and signed off on the plans before it all happened. So, every single state and territory was aware; there were no excuses. In the case of Victoria, Dan Andrews’ anger is quite feigned and pathetic, because he actually has now indicated they’re free to come with no quarantine. So, unlike South Australia, where there is a quarantine being put in place – and people can argue the merits of that, given the very low case numbers in New Zealand, as I say, one active case for the entirety of New Zealand, and a rolling average at present of zero new cases a day. But Victoria is saying they can come and move freely. So, Dan Andrews knew in advance, and actually clearly has no problem with them arriving, despite the rhetoric.
Ali Moore: Okay. So then, just step me through this then. So, the New Zealand travel bubble that New South Wales and the Northern Territory signed up to, that means that Kiwis could come here and land in New South Wales and not have to quarantine – right?
Simon Birmingham: Yes, correct.
Ali Moore: Okay. We have an open border with New South Wales. Why, then, do these Kiwis have to quarantine here in South Australia?
Simon Birmingham: Well, that’s a matter for the South Australian Government, they’re choosing to apply the quarantine regime there. But as I say, Nicola Spurrier was part of the AHPPC deliberations, as were the public health officers from each of the states and territories. So, in the end, everything about COVID is risk management. And I assume that those in the other states who said, well, we’re not going to sign up to receive direct flights and have the Kiwis come and land. But they realised that the risk, in terms of if somebody happens to drive across the border, having arrived from New Zealand where there are essentially no cases, just the one active case in the entire country, the risk then if they land in New South Wales, are that determined to get to South Australia that they drive across the border, is a very, very, very low risk. And I assume that’s why the health officers signed off on it.
Ali Moore: So, do you think the South Australian Government is doing the right thing by telling these New Zealand tourists or visitors that they have to do the 14 days here?
Simon Birmingham: Well, look, the ones who arrived when the rules were in place saying that people needed to quarantine, clearly shouldn’t have arrived or should have known that they were going into quarantine. And so, in that regard, the South Australian Government’s upholding its laws and it’s doing the right thing. But I do hope that SA continuously reviews that. And we have a circumstance where New Zealand has one case across the entire country, and has continuously been recording zero new cases a day. And so, I think that is a very, very strong grounds for South Australia to think about joining New South Wales and the Northern Territory in allowing New Zealanders free entry to SA. And I hope that we will see, pretty soon, New Zealand to reciprocate for states like South Australia that have done just as well as New Zealand, in terms of managing COVID.
Ali Moore: Well, we do know the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, has said that he’s going to look at this connection and what can happen. And we do know that there is a transition meeting today, so there may be news on this front, and we’ll bring it to you here on ABC Radio Adelaide. In the meantime, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, thank you for your time.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks so much, Ali. My pleasure.