NSW Police pushed for Black Lives Matter mural on private property in Redfern to be removed, recordings reveal


At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests last year, NSW Police made multiple calls over a 24-hour period to instruct the City of Sydney to remove a Black Lives Matter mural depicting a burning police car.

A warning to Indigenous readers, the following story contains the name of an Indigenous person who has died.

New audio recordings obtained by ABC News Breakfast reveal New South Wales police officers called the City of Sydney at least four times in a 24-hour period beginning on June 22 last year, asking them to remove the Black Lives Matter-inspired mural.

The mural, painted on private property in Glover Lane in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, was created last June by artist Scott Marsh.

But it was removed within a day after requests from NSW Police to the City of Sydney.

The mural showed a police car on fire with the name “TJ Hickey” written on the side.

The death of 17-year-old TJ Hickey sparked the Redfern riots in 2004.

In the audio recordings, police officers indicated they were under pressure from their superiors to get the mural removed.

“This is gonna cause some pretty significant issues and I’ve got a lot of interest from above,” a NSW police officer said.

A City of Sydney spokesperson said the calls obtained by the ABC were made to their public customer service line.

When asked whether the mural had “racist or foul language” by a council customer service representative, a NSW police officer responded: “It’s got ra… it’s a police car that’s on fire.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
NSW Police officer calls customer service line

The officers told the customer service team they had an “unmarked police vehicle” sitting near the mural.

In a separate call, another officer reiterated that police had officers sitting waiting for graffiti removalists.

With the mural still not removed hours after the first call, police officers again said they had been waiting for the removalists to take down the mural.

The mural was removed on June 23. Mr Marsh posted a video of police watching it being painted over on his Instagram account.

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Mr Marsh believes he has been censored by NSW Police. He said the police should not have the power to “destroy legal artworks created on private property”.

“If the police had left the mural alone, it would not have received national attention back then and we wouldn’t be speaking about it now,” Mr Marsh said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the NSW Police Force said officers from South Sydney Police Area Command were made aware of an anti-police mural painted on a Redfern building after receiving several complaints from the community on June 22, 2020.

“Police spoke with the building owner and referred the matter to local council, as is standard protocol.”

“It is not unusual for police to request council remove unauthorised or offensive wall paintings in response to concerns raised by members of the public.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the City of Sydney said the council removed the mural after requests from NSW Police.

“NSW Police asked us to remove the mural, citing a request by the owner and community concerns,” the spokesperson said.

“The City strives to strike a balance between minimising the incidents of graffiti on public and private property by prompt removal while providing legitimate avenues for the expression of community information and art.”

Police tape.
NSW Police say is it is not unusual for them to ask the City of Sydney to remove offensive wall paintings.(

AAP: Joel Carrett

)

‘I was shocked,’ says mother of TJ Hickey

A coronal inquest found TJ Hickey’s death was a “freak accident” and police were not responsible, but his family disagree with the findings.

The teenager was killed when he lost control of his bicycle and became impaled on a fence next to Redfern Park.

The incident sparked a nine-hour riot in which the Redfern railway station was set on fire and police were pelted with rocks, bricks and bottles, leaving more than 40 officers injured.

Mr Hickey’s family believe he was being chased by a police car when he died

His mother, Gail Hickey, said in a statement she was “shocked” when she saw NSW Police had asked for the mural to be removed.

Mr Marsh painted the mural after seeing an image from the Black Lives Matter protests in New York. The mural was of a New York City police car on fire with “George” spray-painted on it — a reference to George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer one year ago.

“The image actually gave me goosebumps, it was such a potent symbol for all the built-up pain and frustration of a community,” Mr Marsh said.

A Black Lives Matter mural in New York of a burning New York City police car with 'George' written on the side.
A Black Lives Matter mural in New York of a burning New York City police car with “George” written on the side.(

Instagram: @scottiemarsh

)

Expert believes mural didn’t break criminal law

Luke McNamara, co-director of the UNSW Centre for Crime, Law and Justice, told the ABC he believed the mural did not break criminal law.

The mural was painted on a wall on Ambour Hardware after Mr Marsh received approval from the owner, Joe Ambour.

In 2014, the Graffiti Control Act in NSW was reformed to include the consent of the owner as a stipulation to whether paintings, markings and street art on properties or premises were an offence.

“There was a deliberate move by the New South Wales Parliament to make the owner’s consent a critical ingredient in whether or not we regarded the conduct as criminal or not,” Professor McNamara said.

Professor Luke McNamara from the University of New South Wales.
Professor McNamara believes there should be question as to why NSW Police got involved.(

Credit: Anna Kucera

)

Professor McNamara said the fact that consent was given for the art to be created in the first place raised a ” huge question” as to whether there was anything criminal about the behaviour.

After the mural was removed last year, Mr Ambour said he was asked to sign a statement by NSW Police to prevent Mr Marsh from using his property to paint any future artwork.

“He said give [your wall] to anybody else, it’s your wall but we don’t want any trouble. But give it to anybody else except Scott Marsh. So anyone can paint something, like artists painting, but not Scott Marsh — simple as that.”

“I said, Yeah, OK. I didn’t want any trouble, I just signed it.”

A photo of a written statement Joe Ambour said he was asked to sign by the NSW police.
Joe Ambour says he was asked to sign this written statement by NSW Police.(

Supplied

)

Mr Ambour said he wasn’t coerced or forced to sign the statement, but that police had told him the mural would lead to violence.

Associate professor Amelia Thorpe, who specialises in planning, property and local government law, said the City of Sydney had a more expansive definition when it came to graffiti policy.

Street artists must seek approval from both the property’s owner and the City of Sydney, she explained.

Associate Professor Amelia Thorpe from the University of New South Wales.
Amelia Thorpe says the mural’s removal was in accordance with the City of Sydney’s anti-graffiti policy.(

Supplied: Dr Amelia Thorpe

)

However, under the city’s environmental plan, street art is exempt from developmental approval if it is not advertising a business, is not painted on a heritage conservation area, or does not contain material that is offensive, sexually explicit or discriminatory.

“So there’s a very interesting dynamic there when the city says that it’s supportive of street art but it’s really willing to go and paint over it,” Dr Thorpe said.

“This is certainly not the only example that I know of; there are other cases where this has happened. And it fits in with the city’s graffiti removal policy.”



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Callide Power Station turbine that sparked mass power outage had overhaul last year, documents reveal


An energy generating turbine that caught fire and caused mass blackouts this week across Queensland had only last year been given an overhaul to ensure it would “operate safely and reliably”.

The same turbine unit also suffered an unplanned outage in 2017 after repairs were needed to “a steam feed pump booster pump seal”, government briefing notes have revealed.

On Tuesday, the C4 turbine at the Callide Power Station in central Queensland caught alight, cutting power to 470,000 properties. Two other generators had to be shut down and all 236 staff were evacuated.

Queensland government-owned CS Energy operates the station and has a 50:50 share of the C3 and C4 power-generating units at the station with international energy company InterGen.

CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills has revealed only 70 workers were presently allowed on the site, but no staff had been stood down from their jobs.

He said repairs were ongoing on two of the units that had been affected and they might be operational by June 5.

However, he said that date could change.

Mr Bills said the company had not yet been able to access one of the units due to workplace health and safety concerns.

He said CS Energy had told the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that it could take a year to have the C4 unit back running.

“That’s just an indication and we will update AEMO when we learn more,” he said.

Asked about the cause of the incident, Mr Bills said it was not helpful for anyone to speculate “when you don’t know what the situation is or was”.

“We will undertake a very thorough investigation,” he said.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni revealed the C4 unit had been “destroyed” in the explosion.

He said the C4 unit was “one of the youngest turbines” and that all the maintenance was “up to date”.

Mr de Brenni said the incident had caused “a huge impact on the whole electricity market” due to the reliance on the Callide station.

He said he did not expect there would be any extra cost to households in relation to electricity prices.

Last year CS Energy and the state’s then-energy minister, Anthony Lynham, issued media statements saying a $60 million overhaul was being undertaken of the B1 and C4 generating units to ensure their effective operation.

Dr Lynham stated that the overhauls would be completed by the end of November so the power station “was in prime condition ready for peak energy demand”.

CS Energy at the time also described the overhaul project as ensuring the systems “operated safely and reliably”.

In December 2020, CS Energy made public statements confirming the overhaul had been completed and that it had created work for approximately 200 contractors and provided $6 million in flow-on benefits to the local area.

On Thursday CS Energy confirmed the $60 million “overhaul program” on the B1 unit and the C4 unit had been undertaken but refused to say how much of the money had been spent on the C4 unit.

A spokesperson said the work on C4 was a “minor overhaul”.

She said that the C4 unit had undergone a “major overhaul” in 2017 at a cost of “close to $50 million”.

“CS Energy carries out overhauls on a cyclical basis in accordance with relevant asset management strategies for its generating units,” she said.

“For the Callide C generating units major overhauls are carried out every five years and minor overhauls carried out in between.

“During these overhauls, the plant is inspected and repaired to ensure statutory compliance requirements are met and the plant operates safely and reliably.”

A full investigation with appropriate experts and authorities would be undertaken into the fire, the spokesperson said.

“Nothing is being ruled out or in regarding the cause of the incident until a full investigation is complete,” she said.

It is not the first time the C4 turbine has suffered problems and been shut down.

Briefing notes from CS Energy to the Queensland government reveal the C4 turbine had required unplanned repairs to the steam pump booster pump seal in November 2017.

The notes obtained from a Right to Information request stated the C4 unit had been de-rated to 180mw for repair to the seal, but it was then shut down because the repair could not be undertaken safely while the unit was operating,

It said the unit was de-rated from November 4 to November 7 and was expected to return to service on November 13.

Another briefing note stated the C4 unit had been returned to service a day earlier than expected after the unplanned outage involving the seal repairs.

The briefing notes also stated the C4 unit had been given a “major upgrade” in October 2017.

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Federal government to reveal plans for building long overdue heavy icebreaker


The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery on Thursday and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The announcement has been highly anticipated by shipyards in Vancouver and Quebec that have been fighting tooth and nail for the coveted contract since it was taken from the Vancouver yard nearly two years ago.

First announced by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in 2008 and awarded to Seaspan Shipyards in October 2011, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker was one of seven ships to be built by the Vancouver shipyard through Ottawa’s multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan.

The plan at the time was for the entire deal, valued at $8 billion for all seven ships, to usher in a new era of stability and prosperity for shipbuilding on Canada’s West Coast while delivering much-needed vessels for the coast guard and navy.

The Diefenbaker was arguably the crown jewel of the package. Originally budgeted at $721 million, the polar icebreaker was supposed to be delivered by 2017 and replace the coast guard’s flagship, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.

But scheduling conflicts, technical problems and other issues scuttled the timeline and budget — which was increased to $1.3 billion in 2013 and is now under review again — before the Trudeau government quietly lifted the ship from Seaspan’s order book in August 2019.

Fierce competition

The government has not provided much of an explanation for why it took the Diefenbaker away from Seaspan, substituting in 16 smaller vessels that the Vancouver shipyard argues were already promised to it by the previous Conservative government.

Ottawa has only said it wants to make sure the icebreaker is built “in the most efficient manner,” noting the increasing age of the coast guard’s entire icebreaker fleet.

Seaspan has said it is determined to win the work back.

Ottawa asked shipyards in March to explain how and why they should get the contract. Seaspan and Quebec rival Chantier Davie, which lost out of the competition that saw Seaspan get the Diefenbaker in 2011, were among the respondents.

Davie is considered Seaspan’s chief competitor for the Diefenbaker. After losing out of the competition for work in 2011, the rival yard has since charged back and is now in line to build six medium icebreakers for the coast guard.

The Quebec company insists it — not Seaspan — is best placed to build the Diefenbaker, particularly given it is already in line to build the other six icebreakers.

The two have since engaged in a fierce lobbying campaign to win the deal.

Davie launched a campaign to brand itself Canada’s National Icebreaker Centre while Seaspan has teamed up with several companies across Canada to tout the jobs that would be created in different communities if it was awarded the contract.

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Tasmanian government under growing pressure to reveal more about public servant sex abuse allegations


Tasmania’s children’s commissioner has joined calls for the state government to reveal more details about where 13 state service employees stood down over sexual assault or misconduct allegations worked.

Since November 19 last year, 13 employees have been stood down across the state, with the vast majority in the north.

The government did disclose the areas of employment for the first five — three from the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, a teacher from a northern school, and a Statewide Mental Health Service employee, who was stood down pending the outcome of criminal proceedings related to child sexual abuse not related to their work.

Since then, the government has refused to provide any details about where the employees worked, other than their geographical location.

In response to Labor criticism this week, the Attorney-General Elise Archer also revealed a Tasmanian Health Service employee was stood down over historical allegations in January.

Children’s commissioner Leanne McLean told ABC Radio Hobart that parents want to know more, and it would be reasonable for the government to provide that detail.

The children’s commissioner is notified when employees are stood down from Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

Ms McLean said she had not been provided with any legal advice the government was relying on.

“Clearly the government have taken advice on what they can and can’t share. I am assuming … there is a legal basis for that,” she said.

“That is the only reason why you would not share more information that I could possibly think of.”

Child protection advocate Allison Ritchie has previously called for more information to be provided by the government.

“While investigations are going on certainly the government should be able to identify the department involved even potentially the agency, down to that level, and what stage the investigation’s at,” she said late last month.

The Tasmanian Opposition have called the lack of detail an “unacceptable level of secrecy,” and the Greens have said the “opacity is inexcusable.”

Commission start date not yet clear

Late last year the Tasmanian government announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Responses of Tasmanian Government Institutions to Child Sexual Abuse.

It came after three separate investigations related to child sexual abuse were established across three different Tasmanian government departments.

The investigations covered child sexual abuse in Tasmanian government schools, the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, and the health department over the case of alleged paedophile James Griffin, who worked on the children’s ward at the Launceston General Hospital for years.

In January the government recommended Marcia Neave AO be appointed as the president of the commission.

It is not yet clear when the commission of inquiry will begin.

In a statement, a Tasmanian government spokesperson said: “While we acknowledge the commissioner for children and young people’s personal opinion, we will not ignore the strong legal advice we have received that says no further comment can be made on these matters.”

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Albury draft budget papers reveal true financial impact of COVID-19 shutdowns | The Border Mail


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Plummeting revenue streams connected to widespread COVID-19 shutdowns has contributed to Albury Council forecasting a rare operating loss next financial year. For the first time since 2012-13 has council projected an overall deficit with loss forecast to be $2.7 million compared to a $5.6 million surplus on a pre-pandemic long-term outlook. But a combination of an increase in depreciation expense and COVID-19 impacts on operations has led to the major turnaround. Budget papers reveal some of the biggest hits to the city’s bottom line in 2020-21. They include $3.5 million loss in airport-related income and $570,000 loss in entertainment centre income with no immediate snap back anticipated in the coming financial year. IN OTHER NEWS Airport operations are still expected to cost $2.5 million and entertainment centre operations will have a $98,000 impact on city finances. The council has also committed to a $500,000 COVID-19 relief fund for the 2021-22 financial year. Depreciation costs amount to $4.5 million due to the revaluation of road and buildings. “With a new financial year approaching, we’ve prepared a draft budget designed and built to power a major economic and social recovery in Albury, following the costly effects of the COVID-19 outbreak,” council chief executive Frank Zaknich said. “Our ongoing recovery will be driven by a budgetary package that will create jobs and investment, enhance our tourism sector, foster business growth and provide a range of facilities and services designed to improve the health and lifestyle of our community. “Mindful that many in our city are still feeling the financial effects of COVID-19, we’ve proposed an average rate rise of 2.3 per cent for residential households and 1.8 per cent for businesses.” The council received around 100 applications and provided financial assistance of almost $40,000 to affected residential rate payers during 2020-21. But with ongoing easing of restrictions and national rollout out of vaccines the hit on council finances is expected to reduce over the next two financial years. The draft budget contains a $63 million capital works budget with about a third of the amount to be spent on water and wastewater projects. A further $11.8 million will be spent on roads, bridges and footpaths. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Billion-year-old fossil found in Highlands could reveal new link in animal evolution 



“We have found a primitive spherical organism made up of an arrangement of two distinct cell types, the first step towards a complex multicellular structure, something which has never been described before in the fossil record.

“The discovery of this new fossil suggests to us that the evolution of multicellular animals had occurred at least one billion years ago and that early events prior to the evolution of animals may have occurred in freshwater like lakes rather than the ocean.”

The fossil reveals new insight into the transition of single-celled organisms to complex multicellular animals.

Its “exceptional preservation” allowed the scientists to analyse it at a cellular and subcellular level.

The team now hopes to examine the deposits from Torridonian for more interesting fossils which could provide further insight into the evolution of multicellular organisms.

Professor Paul Strother, lead investigator of the research from Boston College, said: “Biologists have speculated that the origin of animals included the incorporation and repurposing of prior genes that had evolved earlier in unicellular organisms.

“What we see in Bicellum is an example of such a genetic system, involving cell-cell adhesion and cell differentiation that may have been incorporated into the animal genome half a billion years later.”

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Streaker hid for 14 hours as part of crazy plot to reveal all to the world


When Olmo Garcia revealed himself to the world during Manchester United’s Europa League game Friday, the people of Granada could be forgiven for having seen it all before.

On a famous night for the LaLiga club against such a big English club, the game had only reached the sixth minute when it was interrupted by a streaker.

The man raced across the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes pitch before taking a tumble and being arrested by police.

But it would not have taken long for the authorities to identify the perpetrator, who has reportedly been arrested 15 times in the last few months alone, according to The Sun.

Garcia, 37, is something of a local celebrity in Granada and is often seen baring all on his walks around the city.

WARNING: Nudity

In the summer of 2016, he was inspired to live life in the buff during a trip across the Americas.

And this way of life culminated in Thursday’s demonstration that took some time to prepare.

According to Granada newspaper Ideal, he snuck into the ground at 9am on the day of the game and hid under a tarpaulin for 14 hours before emerging once the game had kicked off.

The game, played behind closed doors, was briefly paused before Manchester United saw out a 2-0 win.

Garcia has previously spoken of being met with angry responses from passers-by in the streets, and does occasionally dress up.

The Europa League outing will have been somewhat familiar territory for the nudist as he runs a sports nutrition business.

And he explained to Ideal in 2016 his passion for environmentalism, sustainability and world peace.

He said: “I had always thought about doing it, but never had the courage and confidence.

“Going naked has psychological benefits. It is a way to claim purity, peace, to show that when you take off your clothes you are more sincere with everything that surrounds you.

“I don’t bother anyone and I think it is good for society.

“Peace in the world, for me, is harmony, good words, a planet without ageing, a world without death.”

— This story originally appeared in thesun.co.uk and has been republished with permission

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New texts reveal former British PM David Cameron’s Greensill dealings


Britain’s Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been forced to publish text messages sent to former UK prime minister David Cameron relating to the disgraced Australian businessman Lex Greensill.

Greensill Capital’s collapse has embroiled some of the British Conservative party’s biggest identities after it was revealed Cameron was advising the company and used his connections to personally message the Chancellor of the Exchequer seeking help for the firm.

Cameron’s messages have not been published and the former prime minister has refused to respond to media queries for weeks.

Former British prime minister David Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of Greensill has raised eyebrows.Credit:Bloomberg

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s correspondence, published under freedom of information early on Friday morning AEST, shows that he rebuffed Cameron.

The first message sent on April 3, 2020 read: “Hi David, thanks for your message. I am stuck back to back on calls but will try you later this evening and if gets too late, first thing tomorrow. Best, Rishi”.

In the second reply sent 20 days later, Sunak said: “Hi David, apologies for the delay. I think the proposals in the end did require a change to the Market Notice but I have pushed the team to explore an alternative with the Bank that might work.

“No guarantees, but the Bank are currently looking at it and Charles should be in touch. Best, Rishi.”

“Charles” refers to Charles Roxburgh, the UK Treasury’s second most senior bureaucrat.

The texts reveal that Sunak did explore ways British taxpayers could financially support Greensill Capital, although this was ultimately rejected.

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Declutter old letters? How can I when they reveal so much


The Easter break was a perfect time for a declutter, yet the bag of old letters wasn’t getting any smaller. To measure the letters only by whether they sparked joy would be to have misunderstood their significance. They sparked all kinds of emotions that made them worthy of retention.

There were hundreds of them, written by friends in their twenties, reporting on adventures abroad or romances in various stages of complexity, against a backdrop of study.

Letters exchanged by friends can spark all sorts of emotions and are worth holding onto.Credit:Erkki Makkonen

The Black Forest in Germany was “enchanting”, plans were in train to visit “Peru … for lots of unknown adventure” including taking “the famous Inca Trail to the ancient city of Machu Picchu”. Study was planned in Italy, or a trek through Turkey and Syria to Cairo. Voices, full of curiosity and enthusiasm, tumbled out of the letters.

The subject of love featured prominently. Sadly, only one friend’s conviction that she had “found her Gilbert” (a reference to L. M. Montgomery’s much-loved Anne Shirley novels) proved to be correct. The signs were already present in other letters, reporting that the future had become a taboo subject or on some betrayal, that other romances would not last. Maybe that was the purpose for which the letters were written: to clarify the writer’s thoughts.

My first year university timetable, included in the pile of letters, shows a weekly total of only 16 contact hours for the arts/law degree. The expectation in law was that for every contact hour, three hours of private study would be required. The subject of study and exams continue throughout the letters.

The letters record a shift in our outlook at the age of 25. In birthday cards, lighthearted jibes are made about suddenly being old.

Trekking the Inca Trail to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

Trekking the Inca Trail to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.Credit:Shutterstock

The letter writing diminished around that time as jobs kept us occupied. The letters that did arrive were shorter , dashed off between seeing patients or clients.

Children arrived and the letters became shorter still, full of apologies for not having written earlier or at greater length.

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Jacinda Ardern is set to reveal start date for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to reveal the start date for quarantine-free travel for Australians to Aotearoa.

Ms Ardern’s cabinet will meet to sign off a plan to create the trans-Tasman bubble on Tuesday morning, before an announcement at 2pm AEST (4pm local time).

Australian and New Zealand borders have been shut to almost all non-citizens since March last year, with both countries requiring arrivals to spend a fortnight in quarantine before entering the community.

Success in fighting the virus has prompted calls for the two allies to re-open their borders to each other.

Australian states began scrapping their restrictions last October, but to date, New Zealand is yet to do so.

Stacey Brown is welcomed home by her partner Adam Drape as she arrives from New Zealand arrive at Sydney International Airport in Sydney in October 2020.

AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Kiwis have been fearful of a return of the deadly virus to their country, but University of Auckland professor Shaun Hendy said the re-opening was worth the risk.

“It’s not greatly increasing the risk to New Zealand… and it will be good for many people with family in Australia,” he told Radio NZ.

“We are going to have to make these small incremental risks.

“We do want to get something like normal life back over the next year.”

Families separated by the Tasman Sea have been among the loudest voices calling for a resumption of normal travel.

Tourism-related industries and businesses are also desperate for travel to resume.

“We’re all looking forward to hearing what the New Zealand government has to announce,” Auckland Airport executive Scott Tasker said.

Mr Tasker was one of 40 representatives, including airports, airlines and government officials, in the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group which last June put together a logistical plan for the aviation system to re-open.

“It was to really provide a blueprint to both governments on how trans-Tasman quarantine free table could function,” he said.

While Australia picked up the report and put it into action, New Zealand left it on the shelf.

“Australia determined it was safe to consider opening inbound travel to New Zealand last October,” Mr Tasker said.

“It’s pleasing to see that the New Zealand government now obviously do see that conditions are conducive to some serious thinking about the possibility of opening.”

In any re-opening scenario, borders would be closed temporarily in the case of new outbreaks.



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