Months ago, Prime Minister Morrison said that there could be no trans-Tasman travel bubble until all State borders are open in Australia. He said that it would be impractical and unacceptable that international tourists could enter Australia whilst Australians were unable to travel freely within their own country. That went out the window as the States doggedly imposed their restrictions and with Western Australia appearing likely to impose their hard border restriction until March 2021, that was the final nail in Australia’s open borders coffin.
So, it came to pass that on Friday the first batch of New Zealanders lobbed in Australia under the trans-Tasman travel bubble arrangement. The passengers, who flew into Sydney, did not need to enter hotel quarantine under the bubble arrangements. Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders are permitted to travel quarantine-free into both NSW and the Northern Territory, under the proviso they’ve not been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the 14 days leading up to their travel.
Upon arrival however, seventeen of those travellers promptly decamped to the domestic terminal and boarded a flight to Melbourne. Upon arrival in Melbourne, they dispersed – presumably into the homes of their family and friends. But nobody is really sure because the inbound traveller cards are yet to be released and it remains to be seen whether they will show a Victorian address.
At his press conference yesterday, Dan Andrews was unusually animated about these interlopers. He had made clear to the Federal Government, he said, that Victoria was not part of the travel bubble. Yet, somehow, these people had arrived. These people. Like they were modern incarnations of Typhoid Mary. Although to fit the Victorian narrative, they would be ‘these LGBTQIA people’.
The media, for their part, displayed an inquisitiveness not normally seen of the Victorian MSM and wanted to know what happened, and why.
In an echo of the PM, Andrews said it was “not acceptable” that international arrivals are allowed to travel freely into Victoria when Victorians cannot travel freely around their own state.
“They left the airport within only minutes, really, of having arrived. Our officers have absolutely no power to stop someone, to detain someone in those circumstances, particularly given they were coming from a very low virus part of the world. Things have gone wrong” said Daniels. And indeed they have.
What has gone wrong is the astounding inability of the Feds to think something through. If the raison d’etre was for people to be able to enter Australia without a quarantine requirement, just how did the Feds think the international arrivals could be corralled into just NSW and the NT?
Air New Zealand said this morning that onward travel cannot be booked via their system under the trans-Tasman bubble. That may be true but those same travellers can, and obviously did, independently book a connecting interstate flight without wasting time in Sydney.
When the bubble was recently re-announced, it seemed obvious that the prospect of onward travel was so clear that the Feds must have had a plan up their sleeves, but nope. Once again, we witness the failure of a Government bureaucracy to conduct even the simplest actions.
The best, and most likely, solution to the fiasco is that the 17 will be permitted to stay in Victoria provided they comply with the local restrictions. At worst, Australia will be humiliated and the travellers enraged if they are sent back to Sydney – where they would be isolated in hotel quarantine for 14 days, having entered from Victoria.
Debacle – thy name is Government.