Trade Minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.
But he says “first and foremost” Australian states must open up to one another as great progress is being made.
His comments came as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced some “safe and steady steps” in unwinding the restrictions for locked-down Melbourne.
Senator Birmingham said opening up an international border with New Zealand would be a “great step” and work is being done to make sure this can be done in a safe way.
“We’re making sure we have all the work done, all the preparations there so that we can safely achieve that bubble with New Zealand,” the minster told ABC News Weekend Breakfast.
“It’s up to them as to whether they choose to open up to Australia, but we’re certainly making sure that we’re prepared and I’m hopeful that could be this year.”
The Australian government also announced $250 million to boost tourism and infrastructure in Australia’s regions which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
This includes $50 million for a regional tourism recovery initiative to assist businesses in regions heavily reliant on international tourism.
A further $200 million will be injected into the ‘building better regions fund’ to boost infrastructure in regional communities, $100 million of which will be dedicated to tourism-related infrastructure.