It was my absolute privilege to be invited alongside Peter McGill, Past Chair of the NZPBC to attend a breakfast meeting hosted by The Hon. Craig Knowles AM, Australian Consul-General & Senior Trade Commissioner at the Britomart Hotel in Auckland along with the other chairs of the Pacific-based councils. The purpose of the breakfast was to provide a brief to the three Ministers present on the current issues in the Pacific affecting our respective members and discuss the upcoming trade and travel arrangements that are in the pipeline.
We were joined by Australian Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon. Aupito William Sio, New Zealand Minister for Pacific Peoples and the Hon. Phil Twyford, New Zealand Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth.
The discussion focused primarily around the suffering that is being experienced throughout the Pacific due to COVID travel restrictions, with a particular focus on Fiji and the Cook Islands. These discussions were positive in terms of the priority of bubble openings from the New Zealand Ministers and in particular the comments from Minister Seslja that they were hopeful to have a bubble with Fiji by August this year.
We voiced some of the concerns from the Pacific and those that supply products and services into this region that the limited timeframes they were willing to provide between an announcement of a bubble and the doors being flung open had major impacts on the ability for local businesses to gear up to host New Zealanders and Australians who will be looking forward to their international holidays. Whilst we can understand the requirement for flexibility in regards to dealing with the health aspects, the point was pushed in looking forward with a broad outline of timeframes so that we as a collective can start building towards these.
It was pleasing to have the Pacific Media Networks represented, the previous morning they did a phenomenal job of broadcasting the Six60 concert throughout the Pacific, this was heart-warming to hear of the ways they have worked tirelessly to engage and connect the Pacific with New Zealand through a time of physical distance.
As a result of this meeting the NZPBC are pleased to be able to confirm that there will be an opportunity for all of our NZPBC members to attend a meeting with the Hon. Phil Twyford to discuss in further details on the bubble arrangements, trade focus and support for the Pacific region over the foreseeable future.
Further details on this will be made available once a date is confirmed.
Chair, New Zealand Pacific Business Council | Ngā Tai a Kiwa