- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory is firing back at Sen. Ted Cruz after the Texas Republican said the territory’s stringent COVID-19 vaccine rules amounted to tyranny.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner pointed to high death levels in the U.S. compared to those of his region, which is home to many indigenous populations.

“Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from COVID. There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?” Mr. Gunner tweeted Monday. “Vaccination is so important here because we have vulnerable communities and the oldest continuous living culture on the planet to protect.”

The Northern Territory, which is sparsely populated, is requiring retail, hospitality and education workers to get an initial dose of a vaccine by Nov. 12 and be scheduled for the second dose by Christmas Eve or face the loss of their jobs and fines of $3,700 U.S.

“I love the Aussies. Their history of rugged independence is legendary; I’ve always said Australia is the Texas of the Pacific,” Mr. Cruz tweeted earlier this month. “The Covid tyranny of their current government is disgraceful & sad. Individual liberty matters.”

Mr. Cruz is among conservatives who have blasted the island nation for its unusually long lockdowns, which are starting to ease.

Mr. Gunner said Mr. Cruz’s opinion doesn’t amount to much.

“We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate. You know nothing about us. And if you stand against a life-saving vaccine, then you sure as hell don’t stand with Australia,” Mr. Gunner wrote. “I love Texas (go Longhorns), but when it comes to COVID, I’m glad we’re nothing like you.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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