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Stronger together

Our ties across the Tasman

new zealand1
Last updated: 01 July 2021
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Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

It might seem odd to devote an edition of CHOICE to travel right now, but we are a nation of travellers and while COVID-19 has closed our international borders, many of us are still hitting the road at every opportunity. Resorts from Broome to Tasmania are booked out for months in advance, and hotels and restaurants are struggling to find enough staff. The Queensland government has even resorted to offering free airfares and cash payments to people willing to move north for tourism jobs.

Until recently, this travel has been limited to Australia but the new concept of 'travel bubbles' has opened the doors to New Zealand. This has me reflecting on CHOICE's relationship with our neighbours across the Tasman.

If the vision of our founders had been realised, I might have been addressing this editorial to readers in New Zealand. When our organisation was established in 1959, it was the Australasian Consumers' Association, with grand dreams of a trans-Tasman consumer alliance. Sadly our neighbours were less keen on the idea so it was never realised.

A few years ago, we realised that airlines like Jetstar were just as annoying to people in New Zealand as in Australia

This may have been partly because around the same time, a body was emerging within the New Zealand Government that ultimately became Consumer New Zealand – now a not-for-profit, Kiwi version of CHOICE.

While we are separate organisations, we rely a lot on each other. Consumer NZ helps to fund the tests that we undertake in the CHOICE labs, in return for access to our test results. And when they test products that we haven't – such as e-bikes – we use the results to help you.

We're also conscious that lots of the businesses that dominate our markets are the same on both sides of the Tasman. This creates opportunities for us to collaborate when these businesses aren't doing the right thing by their customers.

Consumer NZ helps to fund the tests that we undertake in the CHOICE labs, in return for access to our test results

A few years ago, we realised that airlines like Jetstar were just as annoying to people in New Zealand as in Australia. Our key gripe was that Jetstar was advertising prices that in reality nobody could ever pay, because they didn't include the cost of unavoidable extras. We swung into action, raising the issue with Australian and New Zealand regulators and asking our supporters to complain to Jetstar. Within a few months, Jetstar had agreed to do the right thing. We've had similar success on other issues, including food labelling.

While the original vision of a trans-Tasman super organisation never eventuated, I reckon the people who set up CHOICE would be pretty happy with the way things have panned out. So if you find yourself hopping across the ditch to take advantage of the travel bubble, say kia ora to our friends at Consumer New Zealand

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