Duncan Garner: Zero COVID cases in the Cook Islands - where is the travel bubble with New Zealand?

The AM Show 07/07/2020

OPINION: The Cook Islands is on its knees and pleading for Kiwis to return.

For so long, tourism has been the jewel in their basket - the sole jewel - and now, tourism is a basket case.

This is through no fault of their own, but it seems New Zealand has put any solution in the 'too hard' basket.

They are calling on us to help ASAP and frankly, if we dont send tourists, we will have to send more aid.

Picture this: every resort is shut down. There is not one tourist in the country.

For a country that relies almost solely on tourism, their situation is not only dire, but it's having devastating consequences.

I am dumbfounded as to why we can't open quarantine-free, two-way travel between the two countries. Not one case of COVID, yet not one tourist.

In the times I have interviewed the Prime Minister, I don't get any sense that she has any urgency on the issue.

She hadn't even spoken to Cook Islands' Prime Minister Henry Puna for two weeks - but if this is to happen, it needs the two to be in constant contact.

It's school holidays. I think we could have been there by now.

I think we have let them down. We aren't being told why it's a no-go zone. I am yet to hear a half decent reason why this can't happen.

Ardern says we need to make sure they have a reliable testing and contact tracing regime - they do. That's old news. If she picked up the phone, she'd find out.

We picked up the phone, and confirmed they have tested 15 percent of the population. No one has tested positive.

Simple. It should be game on.

I can't see that it's any different coming from Rarotonga than it is coming from Stewart Island or the Chathams.

It's not easy, says the PM. Well, sure - but it can't be this hard.

Read your own speech Prime Minister - "let's keep moving". Because if we don't - China will.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.