New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is today expected to announce the opening of a trans-Tasman travel bubble to begin within weeks. She will reveal the details of the plan at 2pm AEST, with The Australian reporting that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is anticipated to return on April 12 or 19. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry tourism chief John Hart said “the 19th was pretty much definite”. Air New Zealand is already adding more flights to its schedule in anticipation of the changes. The New Zealand Herald reports that the bubble will operate on a regional basis, meaning a Covid-19 outbreak in a particular state or area won’t necessarily rule out travel between other parts of the two countries, unless people can freely travel in and out of the state where the cases have appeared. People won't need to be vaccinated for travel, but will need to fly on dedicated flights for quarantine-free visitors so as not to mix with other travellers. Ardern will warn New Zealanders of the possibility of being stranded in Australia at short notice, without insurance coverage or financial support from the NZ Government.
National Disability Insurance Agency officials inserted an entire chapter into a supposedly independent assessment of NDIS legislation and made changes to almost every part of the document. A Freedom of Information request from The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the chapter devoted to introducing independent assessments was inserted by a public servant. The new three-hour assessments will see health professionals employed by one of eight providers paid by the government to “determine the significance of a person’s disability”. The assessment panel cannot include the person’s usual therapists. The measure was labelled by disability advocates as a cost-cutting measure. It comes as The Saturday Paper reports that state and territory ministers were furious about being shut out of the redraft, which transfers authority to the federal government.
Labor’s financial services spokesman, Stephen Jones, has written to 90 Coalition MPs urging them to vote down the Morrison government’s planned overhaul of superannuation. Jones warned that plans to grant the government the ability to block funds from making spending decisions and investments it does not like could see investment decisions “weaponised in parliamentary decision-making”. Some Coalition MPs want to curtail the ability of super funds to engage in “politically motivated advertising campaigns”, which the bill may be able to prevent. The Senate economics legislation committee is holding two days of public hearings this week in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss the proposals. The committee is due to report by April 22.
Torrential rain, floods and landslides caused by tropical cyclone Seroja have left at least 91 people dead in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, with dozens more missing. The disaster on Sunday turned small communities into wastelands of mud and uprooted trees, forcing thousands of people into shelters. Downpours are expected over the next day as the storm triggers offshore waves as high as six metres. Labor’s spokesman for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, called for the federal government to prepare to help with food shortages. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said on Monday it was providing immediate support to Timor-Leste's government.