National Party leader Judith Collins says the Government must open a trans-Tasman travel bubble by Christmas, as New Zealand risks becoming a “hermit kingdom”.
Collins on Tuesday also reiterated her party’s call for the Government to abandon restrictions once 90 per cent of the eligible population, people aged 12 and above, is fully vaccinated for Covid-19.
“We should be opening up the trans-Tasman bubble right now for people who are double vaccinated and who are free of Covid. There is absolutely no logical reason to not be able to have people travel to New Zealand from Australia,” she said.
“Where is the risk? There is no risk. There is no risk, and that is the thing, you can’t, you can’t transmit Covid, if you don’t have Covid.
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“The risk is that this country goes down this rabbit hole of thinking that we can be some sort of basically a hermit kingdom and not be able to come out of that without this fear of everything.”
The Government will soon make decisions about the reopening of the country’s border, which has been shut to non-citizens and residents since March 2020. A,ccess into the country has been limited due to high demand for rooms in the managed isolation and quarantine system.
However, Cabinet ministers have signalled the Government will not loosen border controls until next year.
“When you’re trying to put out a bushfire you don’t go around striking matches,” Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Tuesday.
“Now we are going to get to the point where there’ll be freer movement at the border … But we’re not at that point right now.”
Collins said the Government’s incoming “traffic light system” of restrictions, due to come into force on December 3, was confusing to “intelligence, interested people” who ran businesses.
The traffic light system should not be needed at a 90 per cent rate of vaccination for the eligible population, she said, but “if there was a big outbreak somewhere, obviously you use some internal borders.”
“Covid has left Auckland, it is around New Zealand. It is already there … I am absolutely certain that a lot of us will get Covid at some form.
“But this is the problem we have at the moment is that we don’t have a lot of clarity and we don’t have a lot of logic on some of the thinking and decision-making.”
Collins’ use of the term “hermit kingdom” echoed an attack on the Government launched in September by former National Party Prime Minister Sir John Key, in which he said that New Zealand should aim to “exist in a smug hermit kingdom”.