The Government finally reveals the details of the long-awaited trans-Tasman travel bubble and a Labour MP's cancer diagnosis shines a spotlight on women's health.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has finally revealed a start date for the two-way trans-Tasman bubble – April 19 – and says the world-leading travel arrangement marks the “start of a new chapter in our Covid response and recovery”.
However, Ardern has again stressed the “flyer beware” element to the bubble, saying quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia won’t be the same as it was before Covid-19.
The bubble will operate under a traffic light system, which includes pausing flights to and from any Covid-affected states for 72 hours or longer if sources of outbreaks are unknown. You can find the finer details of that traffic light system here.
The bubble is expected to free up more than 1000 MIQ spots per fortnight, although the Government doesn’t anticipate a large number of vacant quarantine spaces to come on stream.
Around 500 spaces will be kept free in the event of a trans-Tasman outbreak, while some facilities that are only suitable for returnees from low-risk countries will be decommissioned.
However, migrant families torn apart by border closures say some of the managed isolation spots freed up by the bubble should be offered to them.
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Bubble reveal met with joy
After months of back-and-forth about a trans-Tasman bubble, the reveal of a concrete start date has been welcomed by many groups.
Air New Zealand broke out some bubbles of another kind to celebrate the announcement, with the beleaguered airline experiencing an almost immediate spike in flight bookings to Australia.
Auckland Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood says his team is also excited and ready to roll out its systems for processing quarantine-free passengers.
Meanwhile, the struggling tourism sector was breathing a sigh of relief at the bubble start date, although there are already warnings trans-Tasman travel is unlikely to immediately bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers.
Industry experts are also advising Kiwis cheap domestic holidays are likely to become a distant memory as tourism businesses now scramble to rehire staff and recover costs.
Of course, the many families split across Australia and New Zealand are also rejoicing at the prospect of quarantine-free travel.
Huntly grandmother Donna Hedley told 1 NEWS she hasn’t seen her siblings, children or grandchildren in 15 months and can’t wait to cross the ditch to visit them.
But while the bubble announcement is great news for many, it’s come too late for some.
Sydneysider Priscilla Tuareka has told 1 NEWS of her struggles to get home for her father’s tangihanga, which she ended up watching over a video call last week. She says she plans to be on one of the first quarantine-free flights into Auckland to thank those who were with her father in his final days.
Allan urges women to get checked
Kiri Allan’s cervical cancer diagnosis has shone a spotlight on women’s health issues, with the Labour MP urging wāhine to get regular smear tests.
The Minister for Civil Defence has revealed she has stage three cancer after ignoring symptoms during a busy election campaign and is warning women against delaying their own check-ups.
Allan is now on medical leave from Parliament while she focuses on her health.
Her boss, Jacinda Ardern, says she’s been “remarkable” in dealing with her cancer diagnosis at the same time as handling last month’s tsunami warnings.
Meanwhile, Allan’s diagnosis has seen renewed calls for Government funding of a new cervical cancer screening programme.
Leading women's health researcher Dr Beverley Lawton says she can’t understand the delays in rolling out a self-swabbing cervical cancer programme that would allow women to take a simple test at home.
Māori King heads to High Court
Kiingi Tuheitia is leading supporters to the High Court in Auckland this morning as a land rights dispute continues.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei began proceedings against the Crown in February over its proposal to give two of its land sites to other iwi.
The Māori King says he’s attending court today not as a protest, but to unite iwi.
Kiwis linked to military regime
The Green Party says New Zealanders are unwittingly helping Myanmar's military regime, which is currently engaged in a bloody crackdown on civilians.
It’s found the New Zealand Super Fund is investing in Indian company Adani, which is building a port in Myanmar and paying tens of millions of dollars in lease fees to a company run by the military.
The Government says it’s now investigating this particular investment.
Other news of note this morning:
- A UK trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on children and teenagers has been paused while a possible link to blood clots is investigated.
- Canada is in the grips of a "very serious" third wave of Covid-19; France has just seen its highest number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in a year; and Turkey has recorded nearly 50,000 new cases of the virus in a single day – the highest number there since the start of the pandemic.
- Chris Hipkins says there’s no evidence of fraudulent pre-departure testing in India amid a spike in Covid-19 cases entering New Zealand from the country.
- Waikato iwi Ngāti Hinerangi will receive more than $8.1 million in financial redress after its settlement legislation passed its third and final reading in Parliament yesterday.
- Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers are demanding a new trial more than a year after the disgraced movie mogul’s rape conviction.
- All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan believes the relationship between New Zealand Rugby and the Players Association is broken as a standoff over the $465 million Silver Lake deal continues.
- The final resting place of a New Zealand Army captain who died in World War I has been found in a first for the New Zealand Defence Force.
- And the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have revealed details about their first Netflix show.
As one half of New Zealand’s longest radio partnership, Polly Gillespie is one of the country’s best-known radio hosts.
But last year she dropped the mic and started writing an autobiography, which she’s shared with Seven Sharp reporter Julian Lee.
You can find his book report here, which reveals the bus crash Gillespie caused during the ‘80s - and the celebrity who once asked her to become a phone sex girl.