Travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand are to be reduced, allowing their citizens to enter one anothers’ countries more easily, opening up their borders in an a move towards a joint economic market.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his New Zealand counterpart John Key have this week agreed to a joint plan that aims to increase airline travel between the two countries. The trans-Tasman agreement will see the average time it takes Australians who travel to New Zealand, some one million every year, to get through custom processing reduced from twelve to eight minutes.
Under the new relaxation of border security between the countries, Australians not considered high-risk travelling to New Zealand would be able to check in electronically and scan their own passports through customs checkpoints.
Rudd spoke of both his and Key’s commitment to the “idea of a single economic market” as a way to improve both business communities. The two leaders have also discussed further unificiation of their economies, as well as the establishment of a joint military corps similar to the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) which first fought together in World War I.
Qantas spokesman David Epstein said that the changes would lead to increased tourism, providing mutual economic benefits, although ideally border controls between the two countries would be dropped completely, making travel between Australia and New Zealand like travelling between domestic airports. Such a shift could reduce trans-Tasman fares by up to thirty per cent.