SunLive         

For separated families and a tourism industry that is on its knees, the government’s inaction and uncertainty on opening the trans-Tasman bubble is now unacceptable.

The social and economic benefits of the bubble are clear, with key stakeholders including epidemiologists giving it the green light.

The social: I’ve been receiving many emails each month from residents who’ve been separated from their families, some for over a year. Whether it’s critical migrant workers, such as the nurses who arrived in Tauranga prior to Covid whose families have been refused entry to New Zealand, or constituents in all manner of places abroad who can’t get home due to MIQ being overrun, residents are desperate to reunite with their families.

The economic: Tourism NZ has estimated that, alongside domestic tourism, the bubble would see overall tourism revenue return to 70 per cent of pre-Covid revenue. With Australians being our largest international visitor group, I urge the government to set a date for the bubble to give our desperate tourism businesses certainty and, in the meantime, provide them with the targeted support they need to survive.

Locally, we’re seeing souvenir shops at the Mount close their doors and businesses reliant on international visitors frantically looking for different markets - not to mention the fallout from a year without cruise ships in our port.

The bubble would importantly free up 40 per cent of MIQ capacity, which is currently being taken up by Kiwis returning from Australia, allowing residents abroad to return to their families. I fully understand this will mean more Covid cases in MIQ from higher risk countries, but tightening up border and MIQ processes and, ultimately, ramping up the vaccine rollout, will go a long way to mitigating risk.

With Australia’s similar risk profile, strict pre-departure testing processes and its Prime Minister all in favour, the government must act now.

To add your weight to this, I encourage you to sign National’s petition, calling for government to open the trans-Tasman bubble now to give families and businesses the lifeline they need. Visit: www.national.org.nz/open-the-trans-tasman-bubble-now

Simon Bridges
National Party MP
simonbridges.co.nz