Covid 19 coronavirus: Victoria signed off on New Zealand travel deal, acting immigration minister says

Australia’s Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has hit back at the Victorian Government, saying it knew about arrangements that saw 17 New Zealanders try to enter Melbourne on Friday.

Tudge says the Victorian Government were “represented” by Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton at a meeting that discussed what should happen if New Zealanders flew from Sydney or Darwin (as part of the transtasman bubble) to another Australian state.

“We further understand from the Age newspaper today that the Premier’s own department had in fact given authorisation to individuals who had arrived from New Zealand to Sydney to then travel on to Victoria,” Tudge told reporters.

“So the Victorian Government was present when it was discussed, they were made aware that this was going to occur, they raised no objections in the meetings, and furthermore, expressly authorised individuals who were arriving into Sydney from New Zealand to be able to travel on into Victoria.”

Tudge asked Premier Daniel Andrews to “reveal” the emails that “show, clearly and demonstrably, that they authorised the people to come into Victoria”, which would “completely clear this up”.

Yesterday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “very disappointed” 17 travellers from New Zealand were able to enter Victoria, despite the state not taking part in the travel bubble that started on Friday.

The passengers, who flew into Sydney and did not need to enter hotel quarantine under the new transtasman travel 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.

But the 17 travellers were stopped in Melbourne after trying to enter the state on Friday.

Andrews said he had written a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the incident.

He said his office still was not able to obtain travel cards from the Australian Border Force as to “who these people are and where they have gone”.

“We are still waiting for Australian Border Force to provide us with the passenger cards for each of those 17 people,” he said.

“We will be visiting each of those people and making sure that they are fully up to date, as it were, when it comes to the rules, the regulations, the structures that we have in Victoria.

“I can’t tell you whether they are New Zealand or Australian citizens. I know where they came from and how they got here. I don’t know how they got here in a policy sense.

“We’re disappointed this has happened given that I had written to the Prime Minister on this very issue the previous day, saying at some point we will join that New Zealand/Australia travel bubble, but it is not appropriate now.

“We don’t want anything at all to undermine the amazing job that Victorians have done and are doing. Some things have gone wrong here. We are very much at the end of that, not necessarily part of it. We made it clear that we didn’t want to be part – could not be part of the bubble arrangements at this point.”

Andrews said it was “not fair” when Victorians can’t freely move around their own state to have people arriving from another country, “without us knowing”.

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