It's popular to call for the inevitable because one day that call will be proven prescient.
Thus the cries for the transtasman bubble to be put in place pronto will some day come to be and the proponents can declare, "this should have happened ages ago, when I was calling for it".
The drums were sounding for a breakthrough on Monday, when the Prime Minister's office advised an announcement on the travel links with Australia would be made post-Cabinet. Jacinda Ardern duly stood in front of the media and declared the Government would announce the commencement date of the transtasman travel bubble on April 6. So an announcement about an announcement, then.
So what's the hold-up? One factor could be the vaccination rollout which has been slow both here and in Australia by world standards. This is partially understandable, given the limited supply of medical staff to apply the jabs; that no one can afford to have crowds queued and mingling at vaccination facilities; and there being no real urgency with rampant outbreaks such as overseas.
Another factor may be epidemiologist advice, something the Government has placed great stock in thus far. Otago University expert Michael Baker warns a bubble may increase the risk of community outbreaks, but not necessarily from Australia. Once the bubble is operating, and Australian travellers did not need to go into managed isolation, Baker says 40 per cent of places within the MIQ system would then be available to travellers from "red zone" countries with high case numbers, increasing the risk of border failures and outbreaks.
That said, Baker believes it is the right time to reopen the border to Australians, because the country could have a lot more confidence in how we manage Covid-19 with public health measures, including identifying outbreaks while they were still small and controlling them. Another plus was that vaccines for border workers were being rolled out in both countries.
One potential hurdle is New Zealand's relationship with Australia, in part due to the latter's policy of exporting any foreigner (read Kiwi) who fails a good character test. Ardern said pressure from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morison to open the travel bubble did "not at all" play into this week's decision to defer a decision. Work had been underway for "some time", she said, which may suggest our frayed Anzac relations could be protracting discussions.
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One stated sticking point is Ardern wanting Australia to have tighter rules around restricting travel from a "Covid hotspot" because of the risk of a Covid-carrier travelling through a Covid-free state and on to New Zealand. Australia declares a region a hotspot and restricts travel once there are 30 cases in three days, a number Ardern says is too high. In contrast, Australia restricted travel from New Zealand after far fewer cases occurred in Auckland last month.
All this, and any other factors known only to those trying to negotiate between Canberra and Wellington, adds up to explaining why our pipedreams of a bubble remain stranded for the time being.