From 19 April 2021, Australians have been able to travel to New Zealand without the need to quarantine at a designated venue for a specified period. Reciprocally, New Zealanders were able to travel to Australia and not be subjected to the in-country quarantine requirements
For many, this meant that Australians were able to holiday in New Zealand for the first time since March last year. Families and friends were united. Each country’s tourism sector received a most welcome injection of business. The hope of travelling to other countries who were able to control their coronavirus cases in a similar way (such as Singapore) was also being considered.
The Trans-Tasman travel bubble for Australians, however, did not include any onward travel to a third country. The arrangement was for travel between the two countries only. Now while New Zealand authorities are not able to prevent Australians from departing New Zealand to another country, there have been occasions where some travellers have exploited this to travel further overseas.
A week later, on 26 April 2021, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt MP amended the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) to prohibit Australians from going overseas to New Zealand and use it as an international exit port to travel to other countries. Some of the penalties for Australians caught breaking this law included fines between AUD6,300 to AUD63,000 and facing up to 5 years in prison. There are exceptions to this rule which includes travel beyond NZ for compassionate reasons in cases where a close family member (parent/sibling/child) is seriously ill or has died or international travel for urgent medical treatment in another country.
Australians who intend to travel outside Australia or beyond New Zealand are still required to apply for an exemption from the outbound travel restrictions with the Australian Border Force. In this regard, the reasons they list for travelling overseas will be recorded and may be used to scrutinise the traveller’s overseas movements.
While the legality of Minister Hunt’s recent changes have not yet been tested in court, ie whether it was lawful to restrict the travel of Australians who are not located in the Australian jurisdiction, it is a reminder that international travel is still very regulated. Let’s hope that more travel bubbles open up and less of them burst due to abuse.
If you require any assistance with visas, sponsoring foreign workers or any other migration matter, Employment Innovations has an experienced registered migration agent able to help.
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The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.