Florida Governor Ron DeSantis questioned why the US maintains its diplomatic relations with Australia given its strict, military-enforced Covid-19 lockdowns. He also claimed Australia is no longer a free country, and even likened it to communist China.
He was speaking at the International Boat Builders' Exhibition and Conference in Tampa.
DeSantis said the country had gone "dramatically off the rails" with its draconian response to the pandemic.
"You know, you guys, look what's going on in Australia right now," said DeSantis.
"You know, they're enforcing, after a year and a half, they're still enforcing lockdowns by the military."
DeSantis Lamented Australia's Strict Pandemic Approach
"That's not a free country. It's not a free country at all," DeSantis said. "In fact, I wonder why we would still have the same diplomatic relations when they're doing that. Is Australia freer than communist China right now? I don't know. The fact that that's even a question tells you something has gone dramatically off the rails with some of this stuff."
The governor said the US should rethink its diplomatic relationship with Australia.
This comes after the first in-person Quad summit hosted by US President Joe Biden on September 24. DeSantis's remarks also come after the AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US was announced on September 15. This agreement is intended to help deliver stability in the Indo-Pacific region which has come under increasing Chinese influence. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
DeSantis Known for Opposing Pandemic-Fighting Policies
DeSantis has garnered national attention throughout the pandemic for opposing pandemic-fighting policies. As reported by The Australian, he made Covid-19 restrictions illegal in May 2021, banned vaccine passports, and has since promised to fight the White House's nationwide vaccine mandate for all workers in the courts, announced a fortnight ago.
A front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday announced that asymptomatic children exposed to Covid-19 in classrooms could be sent back to school by parents.
Social Media Reactions
Some netizens slammed DeSantis for his recent remarks on Australia while other supported him. One user wrote, "DeSantis's Covid policies have killed more Floridians in the last week than Australia has lost in 2 years." Another wrote, "I'm in Melbourne and I can go within 15km of my house. I don't see any military around. What's this guy on about?"
One comment read, "What an idiot. How can anyone vote for him. What a stupid comment. He's got no idea about Australia." Another comment read, "Proving once again that he is a complete fool."
"Australia not willing to sacrifice 50,000 people to make a political point," twitted one user. "Something has gone off the rails, alright. But it is not Australia," shared another user.
One comment read, "Yep and he is right! The kangaroo's land has derailed! Sad time for the Aussies #FreeAustralia."