“Today the Government will try its usual trope that ‘we’ve all worked really hard, and Australian travel is a reward for our sacrifice,’ but the public should look right through them,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“A Government that treated New Zealanders like adults would accept it is nearly a year since the Prime Minister said we would have the world’s smartest borders, and six months since New South Wales opened its border to New Zealanders quarantine-free.
“The Government will say things like, ‘we could have opened to Victoria before Christmas but they had an outbreak.’
“Well, there could be an outbreak in Victoria next month, the real question is why are we ready now but weren’t then, and how were Australian States ready in October?
“Is it that we’ve made revolutionary changes in our border processes, testing and contact tracing in recent months? If so, how? What are we doing today that we weren’t doing then?
“The answer is actually there have been no changes of significance. If the Government had wanted to open the border with Australia six months ago the processes could have rapidly been put in place to manage it.
“And what was the actual risk? Australian travellers have only been responsible for three cases of COVID-19 identified during managed isolation since last May.
“So the risk was infinitesimal, but this is a poll driven Government that knew there was significant sentiment among some voters against opening up. It was prepared to let businesses go to the wall and families who hadn’t seen one another for a year go through so much unnecessary anguish.
“Stand by today to hear a whole lot of nonsense spouted about the potential to be trapped across the Tasman if there’s an outbreak, like the risk of something interrupting travel, such as natural disasters or industrial action, never existed.
“It’s waffle, spin and subterfuge. This Government deserves no praise whatsoever for coming to whatever tardy position it does today; the delay has been unacceptable.”