Daniel Andrews slams the federal government after revealing 55 NZ travellers have arrived in Victoria

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has slammed the federal government’s handling of the trans-Tasman travel bubble after revealing 55 passengers from New Zealand had unexpectedly arrived in the state, more than double the number initially reported.

Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge has blamed the Victorian government for failing to stop the travellers, who entered the state after arriving in Australia via NSW, despite Victoria not agreeing be part of the bubble at this stage.

Mr Andrews on Sunday said the number of travellers to cross into Victoria since the first trans-Tasman flight touched down in Sydney on Friday had risen from 17 to 55, as he lashed the federal government for failing to inform Victorian authorities prior to their arrivals.

“You know how yesterday I said there were 17? Turns out there is 55 that have turned up from New Zealand. So this is the gold standard, apparently, according to the federal government,” he told reporters.

“To say that people were quite surprised that we found ourselves in this bubble despite the fact we had said we would not be, would be an understatement.”

Mr Andrews said authorities were currently making contact with each of the travellers to ensure they are aware of the coronavirus restrictions in place across the state.

As part of this process, he said one of the people believed to have entered Victoria was actually in Byron Bay in northern NSW.

“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, who that is with,” he said.

The one-way trans-Tasman bubble allows people to travel from New Zealand to NSW and the Northern Territory without undergoing a 14-day quarantine. Other Australian states are expected to sign up to the plan in the coming months. 

Victoria’s borders are not closed, meaning residents from the rest of Australia can travel freely to the state.

Western Australian health authorities also revealed on Sunday that 25 travellers from New Zealand were in hotel quarantine in Perth after arriving on Saturday via Sydney. 

WA Police later revised the number to 23, saying in a statement it “will continue to ensure that all incoming travellers are assessed and where approved entry to WA are directed to appropriate quarantine arrangements and conditions”. 

Premier Mark McGowan said it was not an “ideal situation”. “We would prefer better management of these arrangements if this is something that has happened that was outside of our control,” he said on Sunday. 

Mr Andrews’ comments came after Mr Tudge said Victorian officials were present in Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) meetings earlier this week where it was discussed the travellers from New Zealand would be free to enter Victoria after arriving in NSW due to the lack of border restrictions.

He also alleged the Victorian government “expressly authorised” the people from New Zealand to be able to travel into Victoria. 

“I would ask the Premier today to reveal those emails and any other correspondence which shows clearly and demonstrably that they authorised the people to come into Victoria,” Mr Tudge told reporters in Canberra on Sunday morning.

Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, September 4, 2020.

Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, September 4, 2020.


“It is not surprising that they would give such authorisation because the risks are so low, given that the 14-day rolling average of coronavirus cases in New Zealand is precisely zero.”

In response to Mr Tudge’s comments, Mr Andrews urged the minister to stop “stubbornly defending” the incident and work with his government to ensure Victoria was not part of a bubble it “never agreed to be in”.

Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton said he was at the AHPPC meeting where the trans-Tasman bubble was discussed, but was not present for that specific discussion.

“Whatever happened there, I can’t change it. None of us can change that,” Mr Andrews said.

“But I do not think it is unreasonable for us to be concerned if a whole bunch of people from another country turn up in Melbourne when we were of the view that we were not part of that arrangement.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.

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