Judith Collins says NZ's travel bubble should extend to Pacific island nations

Source: 1News

National MP Judith Collins says there should be a Covid-19 travel bubble with the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. 

The Government made a commitment with Australia to create a trans-Tasman bubble when it was safe to do so. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said September could be a "realistic" timeframe. 

"I would like to see the Pacific Islands included, because countries like Samoa closed their borders a month before New Zealand did, they had no cases (of Covid-19)," Ms Collins said on TVNZ1's Q+A. 

"They are a country that could do with some tourism from New Zealand."

Fiji's Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiym told the Australian Financial Review in May including Fiji in a trans-Tasman bubble would do "far more good than any aid or assistance".

"Fijians yearn to swim sustainably, not just be kept afloat."

On May 28 Foreign Minister Winston Peters said including Pacific Island nations in the trans-Tasman bubble was being looked at, however, "the last thing we want to do is imperil the populations of those countries". 

Ms Collins said there should also be more clarity over the people allowed into New Zealand after borders were closed due to the pandemic. 

New Zealanders and family members or people deemed essential are allowed into the country. Of more than 2000 exemption applications, only 10 per cent were approved.

"There are a lot of people wanting to have some clarity to make big business decisions," Ms Collins said.  

"We are in for an enormous battle when it comes to the economy and jobs." 

She said she thought allowing foreign students into New Zealand "does need to occur as long as there is quarantine" and contact tracing.

"It's got to be done safely."