Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate'

The chief minister of an Australian territory is hitting back at Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Texas) after he criticized a new wide-ranging vaccine mandate there. 

“We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate,” tweeted Michael Gunner, chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory. 

The exchange began when Cruz tweeted in response to a video of Gunner announcing a mandate in the territory requiring workers who interact with the public, like teachers or retail workers, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I love the Aussies,” Cruz tweeted. “Their history of rugged independence is legendary; I’ve always said Australia is the Texas of the Pacific. The Covid tyranny of their current government is disgraceful & sad. Individual liberty matters.I stand with the people of #Australia.”

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Gunner responded with his own message on Twitter.

“Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from COVID. There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?” he wrote.  

“You know nothing about us,” he added. “And if you stand against a life-saving vaccine, then you sure as hell don't stand with Australia. I love Texas (go Longhorns), but when it comes to COVID, I'm glad we're nothing like you.”

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The exchange highlights the debate playing out on the international stage over vaccine mandates. Republicans, including Cruz, have attacked President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE for a regulation in the U.S. requiring that businesses with 100 or more workers ensure their employees are vaccinated or get tested weekly. 

Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottSunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant Hillicon Valley —TSA to strengthen rail sector cybersecurity When politics trump workers' health, we know who gets burned MORE (R) issued an executive order seeking to block businesses in his state from imposing vaccine mandates. 

"The federal government has no authority to force businesses in Texas and across the country to mandate their employees get vaccinated,” Cruz said in a statement last month. “American businesses are still recovering from this past year and a half. It is cruel and burdensome to impose this authoritarian mandate.”

"While I support the vaccine and have received it, Americans have the right to exercise personal choice when it comes to their health,” he said.