Angry Australians in lockdown have lashed out at the country’s former foreign minister after he posted a holiday snap from a luxury chateau in France as he flouted strict Covid restrictions Down Under.
Alexander Downer tweeted an image of a scenic area complete with rolling green hills and a sandstone cottage with a caption focused on the 15 million Australians living under domestic order.
‘I am enjoying a week’s holiday in France. They have learned to live with Covid here and not swing from one harmful lockdown to another!’ said Mr. Downer.
The 69-year-old fervent Liberal Party was immediately struck by a response on social media calling him “out of touch”, “tone deaf”, “repulsive” and “privileged”.
Alexander Downer (pictured with wife Nicky) has endured a barrage of criticism from angry Australians in lockdown after posting a photo of a holiday snap of a luxury chateau in France showing the strict Covid-19 Australia’s restrictions slammed
The former Foreign Secretary tweeted this image of a picturesque setting, complete with rolling green hills and a sandstone cottage with a caption focused on the 15 million Australians living under domestic order.
‘You are absolutely, wonderfully out of reach. And how easy it is to declare such things from behind your gates and privilege. Well done sir,” one wrote.
Another said: ‘He’s incredible. Imagine living your life and not being able to connect with people.’
One Aussie even wrote, “If there was an award for tweets without self-awareness, it would definitely win.”
“I feel sorry for the French who now have to learn to live with both Covid and Downer,” another joked.
Mr Downer was Australia’s Foreign Secretary under John Howard from 1996 to 2007, during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and during the espionage scandal in East Timor.
He is now based in London after serving as Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2018 and then transitioning into a role as an international policy advisor.
In response to the Twitter storm, Mr Downer went on the offensive against “leftists” and defended his post.
“Sometimes I look at comments on Twitter and see leftists going crazy because I’m in France!” he said.
‘I live and work in London and it is possible to travel through much of Europe.’
The French government has introduced a vaccine passport system that has given double-dose residents a sense of normalcy with restaurants, bars and public events all able to function as they were before the pandemic.
On Wednesday, an open letter written by 80 of Australia’s top business leaders shared Mr Downer’s views, calling for a “clear way out of the current lockdowns”.
They urged state governments across the country to: ‘stay on track’ on the Doherty Institute’s national roadmap so that residents and businesses can plan for life after the pandemic.
Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott said the country should have a “cautious, gradual reopening” based on health advice.
“We ask for a simple reason: we have to plan; whether you are a family that needs to plan to see your loved ones, whether you are a small business to stock up or a large company with a project.
“Our point is very clear: we need light at the end of the tunnel because you start to see the pressure on people if this continues.”
In response to the Twitter storm, Mr Downer went on the offensive against ‘leftists’ and defended his post
Mr Downer (pictured with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip) is now based in London after serving as Australian High Commissioner to the UK from 2014 to 2018 and then transitioning to a role as an international policy advisor
Comments responding to Mr Downer were quick to point out that France has had the sixth highest number of Covid cases in the world with 6.7 million infections resulting in the deaths of 114,000 residents.
By comparison, Australia has seen about 55,000 cases and just over 1,000 fatalities.
“Brother lives in France… He saw how mass graves were dug, people who left hospitals died in their houses and streets,” commented one person. “If you cover up these facts, you show your bias and lack of humanity.”
Others commented that France has been able to open up because its vaccination rate is almost double that of Australia, because of its screwed up over the “pathetic vaccine roll-out” of its former party.
“France did a massive lockdown champion, but also did better on vaccines. Morrison has let us down,” said one commenter.
Independent Australian politician Tony Windsor sarcastically wrote: ‘Enjoy your stay Alex.’
“Usually only old people die here, few younger children and sick children … blacks face the disastrous consequences of the pathetic vaccine roll-out, but that never worries your nation-builders.”
Liberal candidate Georgina Downer (second from right) poses for a photographer with father Alexander Downer (left), mother Nicky Downer and sister Henrietta (right) at the Barker Hotel, Adelaide, South Australia in 2018
‘Thank you for your interest in our well-being…have some cake’, referring to the infamous words of 17th-century French Queen Marie-Antoinette before she was beheaded by anti-monarchists.
The exact date when Australia’s endless cycle of lockdowns and border closures will end remains unclear.
But the federal government has indicated that most freedoms will be restored once vaccination rates reach 80 percent, which could happen before the end.
They also aim to return to international travel by mid-2022.
Qantas has suggested that a potential travel bubble, which includes New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, US and Japan, could also be given the green light for fully vaccinated Australians before Christmas.