29 Jul 2021

'This is it': Wallabies' exemption the last during travel pause - Robertson

8:24 am on 29 July 2021

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is drawing the line on exemptions to the trans-Tasman bubble pause after the Wallabies arrive for the upcoming Bledisloe Cup.

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Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Australian team has been granted an economic exemption to enter New Zealand and will not have to go into managed isolation.

They will play at least one Bledisloe Cup match in the country and negotiations are under way over the logistics of the rest of series.

Robertson said allowing the Wallabies in on an exemption was a "very specific set of circumstances" and comparable to New Zealanders being able to return from Queensland until Friday without going into managed isolation.

"From our perspective this is it in terms of exemptions to this bubble pause," Robertson said.

"They've been in their own bubble up there in Queensland, they'll all do a pre-departure test and they'll come over on a charter flight that they're paying for themselves. They're within this week-long timeframe that we've given people to get back from Australia."

"After this week, while we have the travel bubble paused, anyone coming back from Australia will be going into MIQ" - Grant Robertson

Robertson, the Minister for Sport and Recreation, said New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia were continuing discussions on how the Bledisloe Cup and the Rugby Championship will work.

"They're ongoing discussions, but we've made very clear that while the travel bubble is paused from the end of this week there won't be places available to people to come in without going in to MIQ."

Asked about the economic case for an exemption, Robertson said the estimate a test is worth $17 million to $20m in spending to the host region was given by Sport New Zealand.

"That's the advice we had from Sport New Zealand, and that comes from work they've done I believe with New Zealand Rugby and city councils around New Zealand over the years."

He said it would include ticket sales and spinoff benefits such as for bars, restaurants accommodation.

"It's also significant for New Zealand Rugby more broadly in terms of the broadcast rights that they have, and its that money that pays for the rest of the sport."

The first Bledisloe Cup tests has been confirmed for Eden Park for 7 August. RNZ understands the second test will also be played in Auckland on 14 August if a re-arranged match cannot be held in Wellington that week , and the third test scheduled in Perth on 21 August would take place as planned.

RNZ understands the two tests against Argentina in September will be played in Australia instead, while the two tests against South Africa on 25 September and 2 October, could also be moved.

If the bubble pause is extended there is a possibility the entire Rugby Championship would be played in Australia, meaning the All Blacks would again be away for about six weeks.

New Zealand on Friday shut down the quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for eight weeks, giving New Zealanders a seven-day window to get a flight home.

Robertson said there was capacity to get everyone who wanted to return from Australia home in that time other than those in New South Wales, who need to go into managed isolation on their return. About 1500 MIQ places had been made available for people coming out of New South Wales, he said.

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