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Victoria's Covid-19 spread holding up trans-Tasman bubble, PM confirms

Australia's desire to open itself up as a whole, rather than state-by-state, is holding up the trans-Tasman bubble. 

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Q+A's Jack Tame speaks to Ms Ardern hours before her Labour Party congress today. Source: Q+A

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ1's Q+A with Jack Tame the framework was already established to open up New Zealand's border with Australia. 

"At the moment, Australia wants to move as a country rather than state-by-state, and obviously issues in Victoria are delaying that," Ms Ardern said. 

Areas in Victoria have gone into lockdown as Covid-19 has ripped through the state, with 108 cases recorded yesterday, adding to its 509 active cases.

She said the framework of a trans-Tasman bubble would act as a framework for other nations as well. 

"We have focused our efforts first and foremost on that trans-Tasman work, it gives us a model and a testing ground to make sure we can do it properly and we can do it right."

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said previously said he had been in constant communication about the trans-Tasman bubble "with respect to say, Tasmania".

"What you've got is a federal system where the states are not even allowing inter-state travel - until we can crack that, we need to say either let's do it state by state and that's a Canberra decision, or let's wait until Australia sorts itself out," he said last month. 

Mr Peters also said over two weeks ago that a decision on Pacific bubble would be "weeks away". 

Today, Ms Ardern said they "are already having conversations with the Pacific".

"We want to make sure when we re-enter travel there we do it safely."

"Some Pacific nations don't want to move yet," she said, but added the logistics were being worked on. 

When asked if New Zealand was waiting on a vaccine to Covid-19 before lifting all border restrictions, Ms Ardern said, "no, not necessarily". 

"Not just a vaccine, but whether we see an effective treatment for Covid, whether or not we see fast and reliable testing emerge, which could play a role in an exit strategy at borders, and whether or not we see a change in pattern to the way Covid is spreading. 

"What will overlay all of our judgement and all of our work will be making sure we don't put at risk the freedoms New Zealand currently has."

"We see there's trials underway for even trials of saliva testing, there is quick turnaround of one hour testing now, but unfortunately their reliability isn't what it needs to be. 

Ms Ardern drew comparison between New Zealand first closing its border at 240,000 cases worldwide - "there are now 10 million".