'Glad we are nothing like you': Australian leader blasts Ted Cruz on 'COVID tyranny' remark

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Michael Gunner, chief minister of the Northern Territory in Australia, countered criticism by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., of the country's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Gunner was responding to the Texas senator calling his territory's vaccine policy for workers "COVID tyranny" in an Oct. 14 tweet, when he shared a video of Gunner's announcement that citizens would be fined if not complying to receive a vaccine.

Cruz noted in the tweet that he's always considered Australia to be the "Texas of the Pacific" because of its rugged independence but now believed the Australian government to be "disgraceful and sad."

Gunner tweeted a direct response to Cruz's previous criticism on Sunday, not holding back and tagging the senator in his rebuke.

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"We don't need your lectures. Thanks, mate," the response read. "You know nothing about us. And if you stand against a life-saving vaccine, then you sure as hell don't stand with Australia."

Under Gunner, the Northern Territory has initiated a wide-reaching vaccine mandate that requires workers in customer-facing industries such as retail, hospitality and education to get at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 12 and be booked for a second by Dec. 24. Should citizens not comply, they will not be permitted to return to work and could face a fine over $3,500.

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

Cruz is vaccinated and has said publicly he supports vaccines but is against any type of federal mandate. Earlier this month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned any entity or business from mandating coronavirus vaccines for workers or customers in the state. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention tracks Texas at more than 69,000 deaths related to COVID-19, but not directly caused by the virus. That's second most in the country behind California.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Australian territory leader blasts Ted Cruz for 'COVID tyranny' remark

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