Alan Tudge blames the state government for not restricting interstate travel while Daniel Andrews says he never agreed to ‘travel bubble’
The acting federal immigration minister Alan Tudge has blamed the Victorian government for not restricting interstate travel, thereby allowing a group of international travellers to breach the established “travel bubble”, while Daniel Andrews has accused the federal government of not keeping track of travellers they have allowed into the country.
A group of New Zealanders flew into Sydney as part of the newly formed international travel arrangements between Aotearoa and participating Australian jurisdictions.
Victoria, still working to contain its second wave of the coronavirus, is not one of those participating regions, and its premier, Daniel Andrews, wrote to Scott Morrison expressing his disappointment in what he called a failure of the system.
Andrews has also publicly criticised the Australian Border Force for delays in providing the passenger information cards to Victorian authorities. The majority of the group was believed to be in metropolitan Melbourne.
Tudge said there was nothing stopping people from entering Victoria, as no restrictions have been placed on people entering the state. Andrews said he has been informed there are at least 55 New Zealanders who have entered Victoria, not 17 as the state was first told, and at least one traveller on the list given to Victorian authorities, was in Byron Bay. He also said that of those 55, only 13 could be reached, because not all of the essential information was included on the passenger cards.
“We have been given a list, 12 hours after they arrived, that is ‘gold standard’, apparently,” Andrews said.
“We are having to find these people. We get a phone number and we get … this list of who is here, right? We are ringing them, one of them was in Byron Bay. And yet we were told they had landed and travelled to Melbourne. Seriously, my advice to Minister Tudge is, instead of stubbornly defending this, work with us and let’s make sure Victoria is not part of a bubble that we never agreed to be in.”
Tudge said there was nothing stopping New Zealanders travelling to Melbourne, as Victoria had never put entry restrictions in place.
Andrews said the position of the federal government was domestic border closures were not necessary, but he thought given Victoria had said it did not want to be part of the travel bubble until it had its outbreak under complete control, the federal government would have prevented onward travel.
“Now, if that isn’t possible, let’s talk about what else can happen. I don’t want to shut our border, but he should have a conversation with his boss,” he said.
“I have lost count of the number of times [Scott Morrison] has said to me, thank you for not closing your border. They want to get all the borders open and I want that too. We cannot just have people wandering into the place from another country. It is New Zealand today, but who knows what the next bubble is?”
Tudge said he has been informed by the (acting) federal chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly, that Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, was present at a meeting where the travel bubble arrangements were discussed, including that domestic travel was a possibility.