29 Apr 2020

Todd McClay urges open NZ-AUS border before end of 2020

From Checkpoint, 6:06 pm on 29 April 2020

National's Trade, Tourism and Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says New Zealand should open the border to Australia with no isolation period either way by the end of 2020, and is urging the government to save Air New Zealand jobs.

Air New Zealand flight attendants fear 950 of them will be issued with redundancy notices next week and they have written to MPs appealing for their help halting the process until at least alert level 2 - so proper face to face consultations can take place.

Air New Zealand has said it will cut 30 percent of its jobs, but it has received more than $70 million in wage subsidies.

McClay told Checkpoint the government needs to set a time frame for isolation free travel to Australia so Air NZ can plan ahead and save jobs. Lisa Owen asked him exactly when he thinks the trans-Tasman border should open-up.

"I think they need to set the time when they would like to do it. And if we continue to see both with New Zealand and Australia, the virus track in the way that one has, I believe it must be possible by the end of this year," for an open trans-Tasman border, McClay said. 

"It could well be sooner. But I would like to see the government working very hard on the conditions by which the border could open again with Australia.

"If Air New Zealand is aware that they could be flying the Tasman by the end of the year... then they're likely to keep more people on than the current redundancy process, that's 3,700 Air New Zealand staff who work very hard, that are likely to lose their job. 

"I fear the number will be much much higher than that unless the government starts engaging, talking more openly with Air New Zealand and other companies," McClay said. 

"I agree with them it is not fair, and for the sake of another week to show good faith in part of this discussion I think Air NZ should look to do that," National MP Todd McClay said.

"I have written to Air NZ to ask for a meeting, a briefing, and have just made the case to them it is very important all Air NZ employees are treated fairly, and they see the process is fair and robust."

McClay told Checkpoint the wage subsidy must come with the obligation on companies to retain as many staff as possible. 

"It's the thick end of a billion dollars of taxpayer money to help out the national airline... Yes I believe there are obligations to work as hard as they can to save every single job that they can. But they are another industry in New Zealand that has so little income at the moment."