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The chief minister of the Northern Territory of Australia responded Monday to comments made by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz about the country’s strict rules to protect against COVID-19.
The territory announced last week that workers who interact with the public must receive their first vaccination shot by Nov. 12 or face a $5,000 fine, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. About 68% of its residents were already fully vaccinated as of Sunday.
The mandate got a harsh response from Cruz, a senator who has often lashed out against COVID-19 polices in the United States. He tweeted that he has “always said Australia is the Texas of the Pacific” because of its “rugged independence,” so he was disheartened by the new rules in the territory.
“The Covid tyranny of their current government is disgraceful & sad,” the Texas senator said Wednesday. “Individual liberty matters. I stand with the people of #Australia.”
He’s now gotten a response from Michael Gunner, the chief minister of the Northern Territory. Gunner told Cruz that Australia does not need his lectures because “you know nothing about us.”
He presented ”some facts” as to how the his territory has responded to the pandemic.
“Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from COVID,” Gunner said in a statement. “There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?”
“Vaccination is so important here because we have vulnerable communities and the oldest continuous living culture on the planet to protect. Did you know that” Gunner continued.
Despite the Northern Territory’s success against COVID-19, other parts of Australia have seen cases rise since July after an early triumph over the virus. The country with a population of 25.8 million has an estimated 27,318 active cases of the virus, while Texas and its population of 29 million residents has an estimated 149,149 active cases, according to the respective country and state health departments.
Cruz is vaccinated from COVID-19 but has often said he believes in individual choice and freedom in regards to vaccination mandates. Gunner said Cruz does not stand with the people of Australia if he is against the vaccine.
“I love Texas (go Longhorns), but when it comes to COVID, I’m glad we are nothing like you,” Gunner said.
The Texas senator has not publicly commented on Gunner’s response as of Monday morning.