New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has dismissed the prospect of a trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia starting “anytime soon”.
Speaking on NZ’s The AM Show on Monday morning, Ms Ardern said Australia’s coronavirus community transmission levels were too high to contemplate opening her nation to its citizens.
“One of the things we said as part of our criteria was that anywhere we have quarantine-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time, 28 days,” she said.
“That is going to take a long time for Australia to get back to that place.”
Ms Ardern said it was “very hard to predict” when travel between the two countries might restart, but indicated it might be “on the backburner for … several months”.
“[Victorian Premier] Dan Andrews himself said they were looking like being in that position for months, which is why they’ve gone into their lockdown,” she said.
The NZ Prime Minister also expressed sympathy for world leaders grappling with the COVID-19 crisis.
“It is incredibly difficult,” she said.
“I think there’s probably a bit of camaraderie amongst leaders because we’re all facing the challenges of economic downturn, a global financial crisis as a result, and the ongoing effects of managing the health response.”
After entering a lockdown on March 19, New Zealand lifted all domestic COVID-19 restrictions in early June.
Ms Ardern’s comments on the AM Show came as new polling showed her New Zealand Labour Party was on track to win the nation’s September 19 election.
The Opposition has been struggling after a series of scandals and a change of leader.
The polling showed support for new Nationals leader Judith Collins rose to 20 per cent on a preferred prime minister basis, far higher than previous party leaders, but still well behind Ms Ardern, whose popularity was steady at 54 per cent.
A Nationals politician resigned this month after being accused of sending a sexually explicit image to a young woman, while another resigned after admitting to leaking the names of coronavirus patients to media.
A Newshub-Reid research poll released on Sunday showed Labour’s popularity had risen to 60.9 per cent, its highest in the poll’s history.