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Qantas backs ‘best news’ Tasman bubble though it’s one-way

October 6, 2020 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Qantas has welcomed the announcement of a limited travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand from mid-October, with the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce calling it “the best news the industry has had in months”.

Joyce made his comment to the Weekend Australian, promising that trans-Tasman flights would eventuate within the government’s timeline, beginning 16 October.

Qantas would be able to get “more planes back in the sky and more of our people back to work”, Joyce added.

The bubble is not perfect, but it’s a start. It will apply in one-direction only, from New Zealand to NSW, to the ACT and to the Northern Territory. Kiwis will be able to arrive in those states and territories without undergoing quarantine in Australia, though they will still have to do two weeks mandatory quarantine, at a cost of NZ$3000, when they return home.

No Australians may travel to New Zealand (or anywhere else) without a permit. Any Aussie travellers to New Zealand must do two weeks’ quarantine on arrival there, and then repeat the process on arrival back in Australia, at a combined cost of about $6000. That’s if they are allowed to depart Australia in the first place. At the moment there is a ban on any departure, without an exemption permit.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her country will not open up until Australia records a month without any community Covid-19 transmission.

“Our criteria is 28 days clear”, she reiterated at the weekend.

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, said Australia’s move was “the next step for a Covid-safe Australia that will reunite families and friends, offer opportunities for businesses looking for workers, and back the communities that depend on tourism.

“Australia and New Zealand have worked closely together since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“We are committed to opening up both domestic travel within Australia and travel with New Zealand, as well as other low risk countries as soon as the health advice says it is safe to do so.

“The Australian Government’s Department of Health has undertaken a public health risk assessment of Covid-19 in New Zealand, which indicated that New Zealand posed a low risk of Covid-19 transmission to Australia.”

Passengers from New Zealand will be able to travel to Australia, quarantine-free, from Friday, 16 October, provided they have not been in an area designated as a Covid-19 hotspot in New Zealand in the preceding 14 days.

The Australian Government defines a hotspot using a three-day rolling average of three locally acquired cases per day.

There are currently no Covid-19 hotspots in New Zealand. The last locally acquired case with an unidentified epidemiological source occurred on 21 August 2020.

McCormack said any state or territory that imposed travel restrictions consistent with the Australian Government’s hotspot definition, as advised by the acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, would be able to participate in the Safe Travel Zone.

The welcome development with New Zealand opens the way to the eventual expansion of the scheme to other countries that meet the guidelines. Singapore, Vietnam and several Pacific island nations are among possible contenders.

In the meantime, the Australian Government will provide increased Australian Border Force support at airports to support the establishment of green lanes of travel for incoming New Zealanders and collecting information on arrivals to assist with contact tracing if required.

Australia expects the establishment of quarantine-free travel to Australia from New Zealand will also free up space for about 325 more passengers a week to enter quarantine in Sydney.

While Australia is very keen to get tourism going again, there is still a long way to go, with Australians still banned from travelling abroad.

The Federal Budget, due to come down this evening, may have an influence.

As well as stopping tourism, the Covid-19 travel ban has put a halt to migration to Australia, producing immediate consequences. The Australian economy is essentially simple, based on exporting raw materials and agricultural produce, while bringing in immigrants and building houses and infrastructure, which in turn generates jobs.

Australian fertility rates, however, are forecast to have fallen during the pandemic, which, combined with the migration pause, means population growth has stalled.

A complex economy gives resilience – the power to cut back on one sector while boosting another, letting an economy remain sustainable without endless population growth. A basic “hammer and anvil” economy is less resilient.

So how complex is Australia’s economy?  The Economic Complexity Index (ECI), compiled by Harvard University, measures such matters, ranking 133 countries on the complexity of their economies. Countries improve their ECI by increasing the number and complexity of the products they successfully export. On the ECI list, the world’s two most complex economies are (number one) Japan and (number two) Switzerland. Next come South Korea, Germany, Singapore and Austria.

Australia is 87th on the ECI list, one place behind Uganda but still (marginally) ahead of Burkina Faso and Paraguay. Australia is quite a long way behind New Zealand, which is 54th on the list (one place ahead of Greece).

For the record, the last four on the list (numbers 130 to 133) are Papua New Guinea, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. More here: https://atlas.cid.harvard.edu/rankings

Written by Peter Needham

 

 

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    The limited bubble is a joke. Who’s going to take a holiday or business trip to Oz knowing they have to pay NZ$3000 to quarantine on their return? Maybe a very few people desperate to visit family but that’s it.

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