Travelers from New Zealand continue to be frustrated by state regulations governing COVID-19.
The main point:
- The first travelers from New Zealand began arriving in Australia on Friday
- So far, NSW and NT have signed up for a trans-Tasman travel bubble
- But dozens of travelers from NZ have caught connecting flights to other states
Melbourne man Matt Gadsby was visiting his two-year-old son in New Zealand when a travel corridor with NSW and the Northern Territory was announced.
He did the research and said he found nothing to suggest he wouldn’t be able to make the journey back to Victoria once he landed in Sydney – so he went for it.
“Everything I could find showed that would not be a problem,” he said.
Mr Gadsby – who arrived in Sydney from Auckland on Sunday before catching a connecting flight to Melbourne – said he felt “alarming” because it was so difficult to find information.
Since Friday, New Zealanders have been allowed to fly to New South Wales and the Northern Territory under the Federal Government’s trans-Tasman travel bubble.
But the agreement has caused a lot of confusion among travelers, with around 100 catching connecting flights to states that don’t subscribe to the bubble.
It has also caused outrage among some prime ministers, and state authorities forced to track down these passengers and put them in quarantine.
At Sydney Airport on Monday evening, New Zealanders Roger and Glenda Haynes arrived on Qantas Flight 146 – seven months after their planned move to Australia.
They had sold their home in Auckland and were ready to embark on their dream journey across the gutter, but their plans went awry when the Australia and New Zealand borders closed.
“On March 28 we already booked flights, so we were two days behind,” said Haynes.
The couple said they applied to the Australian Border Force (ABF) for travel exemption 14 times, but were pushed back each time.
They plan to settle on the Gold Coast once the Queensland border reopens and say they will be happy to go into quarantine when the time comes.
But Mr Haynes said the information on every state’s health regulations was clear like mud.
“You have to read the whole thing several times until it sinks in,” he said.
“Often times you read a part of it and think I can do that, and then you read it all and realize you can’t.
James Lee was on the same flight.
The 18-year-old from Canterbury came as part of a gap year to pilot the tractor at Moree.
He said airport authorities were drawing attention to government websites about which states require passengers to quarantine.
But he is “very happy” that he doesn’t have to go into quarantine in NSW.
“It makes it much more doable,” he said. “Nobody wants to stay two weeks in a hotel.”
Victoria ‘in the bubble, like it or not’
Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said 65 people had arrived in Victoria from New Zealand and 55 of them had been dismantled and notified of the state’s current COVID-19 rules.
The Victoria Department of Health website was updated late on Sunday to say New Zealanders arriving in NSW can travel to Victoria without quarantine.
But Mr Andrews expressed frustration that they were allowed to come.
“Despite the fact that we don’t want to be in the bubble, it seems that the bubble applies in every part of our country, not just saying yes,” he said.
“In the end we are in the bubble whether we like it or not.”
Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan said 23 New Zealanders “crossing the border” who had traveled to Perth were in hotel quarantine.
South Australia and Tasmania have also received New Zealand visitors despite not signing up for the travel bubble.
Home Secretary Mike Pezzullo, who is responsible for arranging international arrivals to Australia, told Senate Estimates on Monday that there are no restrictions on internal travel after New Zealand travelers are allowed to enter the country.
“Once they have completed all those formalities – customs, immigration, quarantine, biosecurity or other federally imposed obligations – you are subject to the ordinary laws of the Australian federation,” he said.
Mr Pezzullo said he believes New Zealand also ends up in Queensland.
Gadsby said he can appreciate the Victorian Government trying to suppress COVID-19 cases.
“But on the other hand, I feel there is a massive misinterpretation associated with people like me trying to return to Victoria – like we came here for some reason other than because we just wanted to be reunited with family.
He said any advice New Zealanders make by traveling to another state is “confrontational” and “offensive”.