Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birminghan says Australians and New Zealanders may be in a transtasman bubble by September, provided Victoria gets its Covid-19 spike under control.
Birmingham today told Australians quarantine-free travel to New Zealand is very much still on the table for this year, despite the flare-up of coronavirus infections in Victoria.
He says the bubble could be operational by September.
"That's a realistic timeframe, however, it clearly is subject to uncertainties like the situation in Victoria and ultimately it requires the agreement of the New Zealand government as well," Birmingham said.
"I'm confident that things will be ready on our end by then. It does, obviously, from their end, depend on seeing us succeed in getting Victoria back under control and delivering them complete confidence in all of our systems," he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
This is the first time the Australian federal government has publicly backed September as a viable timeline for the bubble to open. The date has been put forward by travel industry groups.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said it is up to Australia to decide whether it opens to New Zealand as a whole or opens just some states until others get Covid-19 under control.
"Obviously where there is community outbreak that is a no-go for New Zealand," Ardern said.
"Where they have border controls in place and where they've had no community transmissions for sustained periods of time, that may be a different scenario."
It comes as the Australian state Victoria has suffered a massive surge in Covid-19 cases with a "super spreader" being a possible cause behind the second wave.
As Victorians come to grips with another surge in cases, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says there is a "super spreader" in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs.
There are 66 new coronavirus cases in Victoria today, including 28 from an unknown source, the Premier says. The state's cases make up the bulk of Australia's 81 new cases.
Mikakos says there is a "super spreader", a single person who may be spreading the virus around Melbourne.
"No other state has subjected itself to the level of scrutiny that Victoria has. So this genomic sequencing tells us part of a story but it is important that the judicial inquiry be enabled to thoroughly examine what went wrong here," she said.
"I have to say I am deeply, deeply frustrated by what has happened here. Deeply frustrated because we were doing extremely well and only two – three weeks ago, we had some days of zero cases."
Australians recorded 1.5 million trips to New Zealand last year, before the pandemic began. They accounted for 40 per cent of all visitors to New Zealand.
After China, New Zealand is the second largest source of visitors to Australia.