Land Down Under lockdown? Ron DeSantis blasts Australian COVID-19 rules

Kangaroo at Open Field
The Governor questioned why the U.S. maintains its diplomatic relations with the southern ally.

Is the Land Down Under freer than China?

Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t so sure anymore.

Australia is finally nearing the end of lockdowns after more than a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s in stark contrast to places like Florida, which DeSantis effectively fully reopened in September.

The Australian military was also deployed this summer to enforce lockdowns in Sydney, the nation’s largest city.

Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and Melbourne since Aug. 5. The capital territory of Canberra locked down on Aug. 12 after one positive test stemming from Sydney emerged.

Speaking at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition in Tampa on Tuesday, DeSantis lamented the strict pandemic approach from one of the United States’ closest allies.

“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.”

DeSantis has garnered national attention throughout the pandemic for opposing pandemic-fighting policies that could impact personal freedoms, from lockdowns to mask and vaccine mandates. His critiques of President Joe Biden have helped him emerge as a front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination should he choose to run.

White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a frequent target of DeSantis’ criticism. The initial “15 Days to Slow the Spread” from March 2020 has turned into waiting for vaccination rates to reach a high bar.

“I think what we have insisted on is we’re not just going to subcontract out people’s freedom and livelihoods to some health bureaucrat like Fauci, who quite frankly doesn’t care about your jobs, doesn’t care about your business, and has no regard for how his policies affect people’s everyday lives,” DeSantis said.

People were better off fishing, boating and enjoying the outdoors, he added.

“Especially growing up in Florida, this idea that Fauci says just stay in your house and never leave, that is just so destructive to people’s overall well-being,” DeSantis said.

He has also called for college campuses to remain open even in the face of outbreaks because that age group rarely sees severe COVID-19 cases.

“Do not police their social lives. They’re college kids,” DeSantis said.

Florida paved the way for opposing lockdowns, mandates, and school closures, according to the Governor.

“If we had not done that, a lot of these other states wouldn’t have followed,” DeSantis said. “Who knows where we would be right now?”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • TJC

    September 28, 2021 at 11:30 am

    DeSantis seems to have forgotten that Australia is a democracy, and if Australians don’t agree with the lockdown they can use their votes to make a change in leadership. Just like we did when we showed Trump the door. DeSantis is such a craven and silly little man, he will say anything, insult any ally or health official, to get the attention the little man craves, just like his mentor.

    • Donna Matson

      September 28, 2021 at 11:51 am

      It hasn’t helped. They promise the people one thing and do the opposite. Just like the Republican Party here in the states. Clean house and get rid of the RINO’S along with the DEMONRATS.

      • Samantha C

        October 3, 2021 at 2:52 pm

        As an Aussie, Donna is right. I voted this government in and I CANNOT wait to vote them back out. Our lives are ruled by rules and threats at every corner. The people are speaking out but discrimination is a very real thing if you dare not follow the rules to be vaccinated, as the majority have done at fear of losing their jobs. For the first time in my life, I am disgusted at my own country, one I thought had at least some freedoms and pros to living here.

    • Patriot

      September 28, 2021 at 1:42 pm

      We didn’t “show Trump the door”, massive election fraud installed the Biden Occupation and the entire world is suffering because of it.

      • Professor Emeritus

        September 28, 2021 at 6:06 pm

        No one with double digit IQ believes this nonsense

        • Professor Emeritus' Mom

          September 29, 2021 at 2:26 pm

          When in doubt insult others didn’t raise you be like that.

          • Professor Emeritus’ Husband

            October 4, 2021 at 12:44 pm

            The Big Lie is a fraud. If the lie was true the Democratic would rule the House and Senate. I should have dump you years ago as a wife for being so …

      • tyler

        September 29, 2021 at 7:43 am

        Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Fox and Facebook are obviously controlling your thought processes. Think for yourself- do some looking into the facts. Why did the republicans dominate the downballot races and Trump yet still lost by 7 million votes?

      • Ann Long

        September 29, 2021 at 9:38 pm

        What world do you live in?
        DUMP TRUMP worst immoral
        unlawfull President ever, wake

      • Linwood

        September 30, 2021 at 9:43 am

        Your a moron.

    • Jerry

      September 28, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      Germany was a democracy too when the Nazis took power. Calling a country a “democracy” means nothing. A democracy can become a horror show very fast if you let the mob run amok.

      The majority in a democracy can crush the rights of the minority just as easily as any dictatorship. Our founding fathers recognized this and the reason they tried to put certain safeguards in place and try to keep the federal government in check and prevent the majority from plowing over the minority. Its one reason we elect presidents by the electoral college and not the popular vote in order to protect smaller and rural states. Over the years, those safeguards have eroded away. Our federal government today is way more powerful than the framers intended it to be. And the Democrats aren’t satisfied. They want it even more powerful.

  • Donna Matson

    September 28, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Give any government bureaucrat like Frakenfauci an inch and they take arcs. Look at his record from the ATZ-AIDS era. The NIIH, CDC, and FDA are in the pockets of Big Pharma and the Bankers. Follow the money, always.

    • Professor Emeritus

      September 28, 2021 at 6:08 pm

      REal doctors think he is a genius Doctors of right wing facebook quackery don’t
      your choice

    • tyler

      September 29, 2021 at 7:48 am

      Wow! You are so angry. By the way, If you are comparing Dr. Fauci to Frankenstein, you should’ve put an “n” in your fraken.

    • tjb

      October 4, 2021 at 9:35 am

      Florida has 6.5% of the USA population, but it has 8% of the USA Covid death rate. How can you say DeSantis is doing a great job with Covid when Florida leads the nation in the highest percentage of Covid death?

  • Alex

    September 28, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    No DeAnus, you work for Florida and this is waaaay above your pay grade.

    And you just proved you know nothing about the situation in the far east.

    Good thing because the Aussies are a key ally against China along with Japan.

    Just shut up.

    • SaviourSelf

      September 28, 2021 at 7:19 pm

      As an Australian, I agree with De Santis. Australia has always had a strong authoritarian streak in government, and an apathetic streak in the voting public. We’re a country of jailers and convicts, some trying to rule, most just trying to live and happy to ignore politics as much as possible. Which is why our governments (state and fed) have pushed farther than some totalitarian countries in the ridiculous endeavour of zero covid. The city of Melbourne officially holds the title of the most locked down city on the planet… I work for a state health dept which just got mandated vaccination orders where lack of compliance = very short path to getting fired (and getting fired from the gov in Oz is typically hard work…). If I weren’t already vaccinated, I would have refused on principle. And the dumb thing is, our fed gov at the moment (the “Liberals”) is the conservative party who you’d hope would steer away from this sort of crap… De Santis is right and Australia is in a lot of trouble.

      • Aussie Lady

        September 28, 2021 at 10:28 pm

        Totally agree

      • Alex

        September 29, 2021 at 2:02 pm

        Too bad I don’t believe you, or the person below.

  • Denrose

    September 28, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    As an Australian I agree with De Santis and support comments made by SaviourSelf. You need to be living it to understand how draconian and anti-democratic the measures are which have been mandated for every Australian State run by premiers from both sides of politics. Worse still, our ‘conservative’ Prime Minister is going along with it claiming he’s saved 30,000 lives! The politicians have been encouraging Australians to report on their fellow citizens – this is totalitarianism. The brutal heavy handedness by law enforcement is not reported by mainstream media here. I have to go to American sites for this information. State borders are all closed, children unable to attend school, Numbers severely restricted to attend funerals and weddings and mental illness off the charts, yet we’re told that all these measures are taken on the advice of so-called health experts but nobody gets to see that advice. I despair for my country. Yes, we can vote them out but it won’t change anything and will be too late by then.

    • Sam C

      October 4, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      In complete agreement Denrose. It sucks here. So ashamed of our country, it’s rules, communist attitude and BS media coverage. My uncle died – OF THE VACCINE but do you think that got reported? Do you think he would have a doctor brave enough to act on his side? Of course not when they are told they will face medical enquiry if seen to be questioning the vaccine! I was one of the “lucky” ten to get to attend his funeral. Load of fxxking BS!

  • Diane Burge

    September 28, 2021 at 11:50 pm

    As an Australian, I would not cry if the US cut ties with us. Unlike various states in the US no Australian doctor is now able to prescribe Ivermectin off label for treatment of Covid. People have died. I hold the so-called biden administration totally responsible. I think we would be far better off without the US the way it is currently being run. As Bernard Lewis wrote: “America is harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.”

  • Happy Aussie

    September 29, 2021 at 2:50 am

    Seems funny that protecting your citizens should be seen as dracionian and evil.

    Compare the death rates here in Australia to the rest of the world.

    Florida is showing the way how to clean out the shallow end of the gene pool.

    • Jerry

      September 29, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      When you use a pandemic to expand your power and agenda, that’s a big problem. I don’t know about Australia’s government track record, but the US health officials has been lying and twisting stats with this virus since the beginning and are still doing it. There is no trust. The goalposts keep shifting. The media is censoring people who disagree which actually only causes more suspicion and forces people to seek out information from even more radical sources. Democrats have tried to use the virus as a way to advance their policies that don’t have anything to do with COVID.

      The government has lost the trust of the people. Everything the government says is being questioned. Recent poll shows a majority of voters do not believe Biden is providing true and accurate COVID data. If you can’t trust the government and can’t trust the doctors, you won’t have compliance. Mandates and restrictions will ultimately only make things worse.

      • Alex

        September 29, 2021 at 8:53 pm


        That was a giant pile of lies.

        Trump is that you?

  • Lance Carter

    September 29, 2021 at 6:26 am

    This story though well written contained a significant factual error that being: “The Australian military was also deployed this summer to enforce lockdowns in Sydney, the nation’s largest city”. This is wrong. Military personnel are ’employed’ by the federal Gov. The “covid laws”- ie health act is a state law that can only be enforced by sworn officers of the state police. Military personnel can’t penalise, enforce any state or local (or federal) law for anything in any state at any time but they did accompany police on ‘welfare checks’ on covid affected people at home.

  • Max No Knees

    September 29, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Hang on Lance Carter. Look up “posse comitatus’ which covers the calling out of federal troops and Mansfield’s Doctrine on the same subject.

    Australian governments have become more inclined to ‘call out the army’ during emergencies as in recent bush-fires and floods – and now during a health crisis. Oh, not because the photo opportunities are better, but rather the failings of governments to adequately prepare for the predictable which remain unchallenged by a limp and sycophantic media.

    No thought given as to formalising it under common law with checks, balances and protections for the civil population, should weapons be involved.

    Luckily those in uniform have a certain rationality as to what their role and function is when not actually out defending Australia’s interests in God /Allah forsaken places.

  • Grant Summerton

    September 29, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Florida and Australia have similar populations.
    Covid deaths:
    Australia = 1,278
    Florida = 54,000

    Here in Australia we have freedom, the freedom NOT TO DIE.
    Our government has protected us.

    • Ally Jones

      September 29, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Perfectly stated. Almost 53,000 extra deaths in Florida are the price of “freedom”. To the dissenting Aussie voices wanting more freedoms, be careful what you wish for.

    • Ocean Joe

      September 29, 2021 at 11:25 am

      You (Australia) have a government with common sense and tough enough to recognize the cost of not taking extreme steps to deal with an extreme problem. Here in Florida, we are controlled by the “Trump base” whose members protect their freedom to die from covid and take veterinary meds, but would oppose any assisted suicide laws, all the while they assist one another through their deliberate ignorance. Our politicians know better, but they fear their own voters.

      • Jerry

        September 29, 2021 at 4:48 pm

        At what cost? The cure is worse than the disease.

        I don’t want to live in a country with a government that feels it needs to be totalitarian and control my health decisions for my own good. Australia is deploying the military to lockdown cities. You really want that in America? If you are truly that afraid of COVID, no one is stopping you from locking yourself in your house. If you don’t want to work, get a remote job. But don’t expect the rest of us to all buy into your fear and panic. We are not going to trash our rights and freedoms for a virus we are never going to stop and that 99% of us will survive if we catch it.

        If you want the vaccine, get it. If you want to wear a mask, wear one. No one will stop you. But stop being so obsessed in everyone else’s decisions.

        • Alex

          September 29, 2021 at 8:56 pm

          Nobody is controlling you idiot.

          And Robert proved you have no idea what you’re talking about

          • Ken

            October 1, 2021 at 10:49 am

            Fuck you Alex! All you do is insult people on here! If you want I would like to meet you in person. And kick the living shit out of you. You fucking big mouth pussy

        • Alex

          October 2, 2021 at 7:43 am

          Internet tough guy Ken.

          You’re likely a squirt with a tiny dick.


        • tjb

          October 4, 2021 at 1:54 pm

          Florida has 6.5% of the USA population, but it has 8% of the USA Covid deaths.
          DeSantis’s Florida leads the nation in the highest percentage of Covid death.
          Yes most people do survive covid, but 700,00 plus souls have died from Covid — roughly the entire population of Alaska or Jacksonville, FL.

        • Samantha C

          October 4, 2021 at 2:27 pm

          100% agreed as a Sydney-wider with you Jerry.

    • Rob J

      September 29, 2021 at 9:24 pm

      Grant, there is no way to fully eradicate covid, the only way to beat it is through herd immunity, you have only had 100k cases compared to Florida’s 3.5 million cases. All this means for you is that Covid is going to be around Australia significantly longer, you will live with it and lockdowns for many many years to come.

      • Alex

        September 30, 2021 at 11:17 am


        That was profoundly ignorant.

  • Robert Hudson

    September 29, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    I’m a dual Australian and U.S. citizen and a proud descendant of Sons and Daughters soldiers. I think this Florida fellow citing Australia as a country similar to China in lacking freedoms is quite bemusing. My wife and I have just several months traveling in the state north of ours enjoying total freedom to go wherever we desired. We returned a few days ago from three days out west of here enjoying total freedom, also going wherever we please. Because we had to wear a mask and sign into venues where we stopped wasn’t killing our freedom, it is intended to assist with covid tracking in case there are cases out here. Which there are. I just got back from having a coffee down the main street. Everyone was masked up, no worries.
    The lockdowns in our cities and other areas are the result of protestors following the de Santis philosophy of ‘they’re taking our freedom from us!’ and others who foolishly ignore the health warnings. This is a health issue, not a freedom issue.
    We are in unprecendented times for the governments of the world, and it is becoming more and more evident that ignorant people of extremely low intelligence like the Florida governor and our Prime Minister are incapable of dealing with it rationally. Nearly 90% of people in our state are vaccinated and the only people complaining about it watch Murdoch’s ‘news’ sources. In our small country town, nearly 100% of the population is vaccinated. Intelligent rational people are doing what needs to be done to curtail the spread. The military only went into areas where idiots were ignoring the health warnings. It’s not 1970’s Chile down here.
    As a final point, compare the death rates for Florida and Australia. We had 15 deaths in our state on Tuesday. That’s scaringly high for down here. And most of them were unvaccinated or had preexisting health conditions.

  • Woke warrior

    September 29, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    “Give me liberty or give me death” – in Florida you can have both!! Florida and Australia have similar sized populations. Florida has had 54,000 COVID deaths. Australia has had 1,278. That’s an entire football stadium of people killed unnecessarily – a heavy price to pay for the freedom to have a haircut.

  • Joe Steranka

    September 29, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    Well, Florida has 4 million fewer residents than Australia (21 vs 25 mm), but ~25,000 deaths vs 1500 or so Down Under. Who has handled it better???

  • Linwood

    September 30, 2021 at 9:41 am

    DeSantis has killed thousands of Americans and now he’s trying to undermine relations with a long and important ally.

    Are we sure DeSantis isn’t being paid by a foreign adversary?

  • Otto Dafe

    October 1, 2021 at 8:05 am

    What about hyper-“socialist” Israel?

    Israel is one the most vaccinated populations in the world. But they’re still dealing with it. Clearly, more needs to be done.

    The US a model case study on how to fail in dealing with Covd. #1 in cases and #1 in deaths.

    The US has a lot to learn from Australia and Israel. But we’re not interested

  • Lola Mills

    October 1, 2021 at 2:20 pm

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  • Rani Yafai

    October 4, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    The author of the article did not even compare Stats. 55,000 covid deaths in Fl vs 1200 in Australia. The strict covid protocols Australia imposed saved the lives of thousands of their citizens. How can anyone defend Desantis?

  • jack

    October 7, 2021 at 8:30 am


  • Andrew S

    October 7, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    To be fair to Australia, worldometers shows that thus far Australia has suffered 1,389 deaths vs. Florida’s 55,625.

    That’s 40x more deaths here, despite Australia having 4m more people than Florida.

    Or maybe it’s all fake news. At any rate, I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether not being able to go to the bar/church/movies/shopping/whatever on and off for the last year and a half is worth the 54k extra lives.

Comments are closed.


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