National

Health panel to reboot trans-Tasman travel

By AAP Newswire

A panel of Australia's top medical experts will be the final arbiters on restarting travel to New Zealand.

Health Minister Greg Hunt is enthusiastic about the prospect of a "travel bubble" across the Tasman.

"That is something that I think offers real prospects and hope for people on both sides of the ditch," he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"It is a really important thing that if we can have greater international movement that is safe, we do that."

Mr Hunt said the timing would be up to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

"They'll look at when they think it's safe," he said.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham is using the prospect of trans-Tasman travel to pile pressure on Queensland.

Senator Birmingham said he would not allow fortified states to become an obstacle to the deal.

"New Zealand is obviously the first, and right now only, international market that we could safely agree to open up to," he told Nine newspapers.

"If New Zealand and some Australian states are ready and willing to progress, then the reluctance of other states to open up their domestic borders shouldn't become an obstacle to progress."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects Australian state borders to re-open before establishing the travel ties.

"The states haven't opened up to each other yet," she told Radio New Zealand.

"Obviously I would expect to see some of those issues resolved before we'd see them necessarily opening up to New Zealand and you can understand why.

"People want to be able to travel internally in Australia before they'd expect to be able to come across the ditch."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants the bubble in place by the end of this year.

"I'd like to see that happen ... this side of Christmas would be wonderful," she told reporters in Sydney.

NSW is encouraging interstate visitors to come for a holiday from June 1, when travel restrictions in the regions will be relaxed.

But apart from Victoria and the ACT, all other states and territories are maintaining a hardline approach, fearing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will consider lifting travel restrictions at the end of the month but has warned the state's borders could be shut until September.

"I will not put Queenslanders at risk," she told reporters.

Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said the sunshine state had been a success story in containing the virus.

"It's come from the premier making difficult decisions based on the firm advice of the medical community," he told ABC radio.

"I think all of us want to see the borders safely reopened ... something like every 10th job in my home state relies in one way or another on tourism."