Pilots wearing face masks arrive in at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport after landing on an Air New Zealand flight. Photo / Getty Images
Liberal MP Tim Wilson has said he doesn’t “really understand what the issue is” with the 17 New Zealand travellers detained in Melbourne, having entered Australia via Sydney.
The passengers travelled to NSW from New Zealand under the new travel bubble arrangement, allowing them to fly into Australia without needing to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.
But the travel bubble doesn’t extend to Victoria – only NSW and the Northern Territory – prompting authorities there to lash the Federal Government.
Speaking on the ABC, Wilson said he couldn’t see the problem.
“To be frank, I don’t really understand what the issue is. NSW are accepting flights as part of the transtasman bubble from New Zealand. There is no quarantine obligations when people go from NSW into Victoria,” Wilson said.
“There is in reverse. So, once people have arrived here and have been assessed ultimately as safe, then the ordinary pathways for people to be able to travel into Victoria, if they wish to do so. So, I want to know what the basis of – and it’s not clear to me what the basis of – is there a new requirement to go into Victoria? I’m in the ACT right now. If I go to Victoria, I’m not expected to quarantine, because it isn’t a source of Covid-19.”
The Herald earlier revealed that the 17 New Zealand travellers have not yet reached out for consular help. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had not yet been approached “for consular assistance”.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it did “not have legal authority to detain the travellers on arrival”.
“Victoria has not agreed to a travel bubble arrangement with New Zealand and did not expect to receive international travellers as a result of NSW making that arrangement,” DHHS said.
“The Victorian Government has made it clear to the Commonwealth that we expect NZ passengers who have not undertaken quarantine will not be permitted to board flights in Sydney bound for Melbourne.”
The Australian Border Force said “domestic border restrictions are a matter for states and territories”.
The statements left it unclear exactly where the travellers were being detained.
Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders will be allowed to travel quarantine-free into NSW and the Northern Territory if they have not been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days.
Meanwhile, reaction to the news of the Kiwis caught in Melbourne was swift.
“Why anyone would come to melb at this time I don’t know,” wrote another, in reference to the months-long Covid-19 restrictions in the city, after it was affected by a severe second wave of the virus.
Another was more welcoming, posting “Welcome to Hotel Melifornia”.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, Morrison said about 230 New Zealanders had arrived in Sydney.
“We have already welcomed our first Kiwis back to Australia for a holiday. That’s fantastic,” the Prime Minister said.
“Some 230, I understand, were on the flight this morning that has arrived, and I think is just going through customs now as we speak, and there are others who will be coming.”
“We welcome those Kiwis, kia ora to those Kiwis who’ve joined us today, I hope you enjoy your holiday in New South Wales or the Northern Territory or the ACT and tell your friends and we’re looking forward to seeing more of you.”