Gov. DeSantis says the US should rethink its alliance with Australia over its military-enforced COVID lockdowns, says it is 'not a free country' and compares its government to communist China

 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has slammed the United States' recently announced alliance with Australia over its harsh COVID lockdowns, claimed it is no longer a free country, and even likened it to communist China.   

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 on Tuesday, speaking at the International Boat Builders' Exhibition and Conference in Tampa. 

'You know, they're enforcing, after a year and a half, they're still enforcing lockdowns by the military.'

The 43-year-old, who has railed against lockdowns in his own state and has banned mask mandates, said Australia was turning into a dictatorship. 

'That's not a free country. It's not a free country at all,' he said.  

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, on Tuesday appeared at a boat show in Tampa and suggested that the U.S. rethink its relations with Australia, given their strict COVID restrictions

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, on Tuesday appeared at a boat show in Tampa and suggested that the U.S. rethink its relations with Australia, given their strict COVID restrictions

'In fact, I mean, I wonder why we would still have the same diplomatic relations when they're doing that.

'Is Australia freer than China, 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.' 

Australia initially sailed through the pandemic thanks to its isolated location and travel bans, with its citizens relishing their normal existence as the rest of the world was battered by COVID-19 and endured lockdowns. 

But it is now fighting record outbreaks across the country, and has been enforcing tough lockdowns nationwide - with frequent violent protest.  

Police in Melbourne are seen on September 22 facing off against protesters angered by the lockdowns

Police in Melbourne are seen on September 22 facing off against protesters angered by the lockdowns

Protesters in Melbourne hold aloft the Australian flag and demand an end to lockdown on September 22

Protesters in Melbourne hold aloft the Australian flag and demand an end to lockdown on September 22

Protestors chant 'lest we forget' as they march onto WW1 shrine
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Demonstrators calling for an end to Melbourne's lockdown - the longest in the world - protest on September 22. Ron DeSantis likened Australia to China, which kept people in their homes

Demonstrators calling for an end to Melbourne's lockdown - the longest in the world - protest on September 22. Ron DeSantis likened Australia to China, which kept people in their homes

DeSantis has become one of the most outspoken opponents of White House measures to restrict the spread of the virus.

He apologized last year for the March 2020 lockdown, insisting he would never do it again, and he has refused pressure to demand health and education workers be vaccinated.

DeSantis has also issued an executive order banning compulsory masking in Florida schools, although many districts have vowed to defy him.  

On Tuesday he said he stood by his belief that lockdowns were not the answer - despite Florida seeing its largest and deadliest wave of the pandemic just weeks ago.

'I really believe that if we had not done what we did during the last year and a half to keep the state open, to protect people's jobs, to protect our small businesses, to protect our kids being able to go to school - if we had not done that, a lot of these other states wouldn't have followed,' DeSantis said.

'And who knows where we would be right now?' 

Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, was in the United States last week for the United Nations general assembly, and denied that his country had become an 'authoritarian dystopia'.

He told CBS that 'social differences' explained the greater severity of restrictions in Australia. Melbourne has endured the longest lockdown in the world, while elsewhere protesters have been met with rubber bullets and tear gas.

'I think we are different societies,' Morrison said, when asked about the response to COVID in the U.S. and Australia. 

'I mean, we're great friends and we share beliefs and values that we hold dear, but in Australia, when it comes to public health, we're a very pragmatic nation. 

'And I can tell you, the virus doesn't care what you believe. 

'The virus cares about how it can come and take your life.'

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