Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted at expanding the trans-Tasman travel bubble to include other Pacific Islands after touching down in New Zealand for talks with his NZ counterpart Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison touched down in famed ski town Queenstown on Sunday afternoon to hold talks with Ms Ardern for the Australia-New Zealand Leaders Forum.
The visit comes after the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble last month and the Prime Minister hinted at expanding the travel bubble.
“We are very focused on supporting our Pacific family, and the idea of a bubble that goes beyond New Zealand and Australia is a real possibility,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
He spoke to colleagues in the region and noted Fiji was going through a “difficult time” at the moment, but Australia was supporting the nation. The Pacific travel bubble could include destinations such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and/or the Solomon Islands.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said he was “excited” and “optimistic” about the possibility of a trans-Pacific travel bubble in the near future but noted the national carrier would require certainty on the start date so it could prepare.
“We have the aircraft, and we have the people,” he said.
“The more bubbles the better, because we can activate more aircraft, get more people back to work and help the tourism industries in the countries that are very dependent on tourism.”
The PM’s comments heap further doubt on the federal government’s earlier plans of a travel bubble arrangement with Singapore coming to fruition, with the Asian neighbour recently hit with a COVID-19 outbreak of its own.
The moment between Ms Ardern and Mr Morrison is politically significant as it is believed to be the first meeting of world leaders without masks in a nation devoid of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
By Joe Cusmano