Angry Australians in lockdown have lashed out at the nation’s former foreign minister after he posted a holiday snap from a luxury chateau in France while slamming tough Covid restrictions Down Under.
Alexander Downer tweeted an image of a picturesque setting complete with rolling green hills and a sandstone cottage with a caption directed at the 15 million Australians living under stay-at-home orders.
‘I’m enjoying a week’s break in France. They’ve learned to live with Covid here not lurch from one damaging lockdown to another!’ Mr Downer said.
The 69-year-old Liberal Party stalwart was immediately hit with a social media backlash calling him ‘out of touch’, ‘tone deaf’, ‘repugnant’ and ‘privileged’.
Alexander Downer (pictured with wife Nicky) has copped a barrage of criticism from angry Australians in lockdown after he posted a picture a holiday snap from a luxury chateau in France slamming Australia’s tough Covid restrictions
The former foreign minister tweeted this image of a picturesque setting complete with rolling green hills and a sandstone cottage with a caption directed at the 15 million Australians living under stay-at-home orders
‘How absolutely, wonderfully out of touch you are. And how easy it is to declare such things from behind your gates and privilege. Well done Sir,’ one person wrote.
Another said: ‘He’s unbelievable. Imagine living your life and not being able to relate to people.’
One Aussie even wrote: ‘If there was a prize for tweets devoid of self awareness this would win hands down.’
‘I feel sorry for the French who now have to learn to live with both Covid and Downer,’ another joked.
Mr Downer served as Australia foreign minister under John Howard from 1996 to 2007, holding office during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as the Timor-Leste spying scandal.
He is now based in London after taking up the post of Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2018 and then transitioning into a role as an international policy consultant.
In response to the Twitter storm, Mr Downer went on the offensive against ‘lefties’ and defended his post.
‘I sometimes look at comments on Twitter and see lefties going feral about me being in France!’ he said.
‘I live and work in London and it’s possible to travel in much of Europe.’
The French government have introduced a vaccine passport system which has allowed double-dosed residents a sense of normality with restaurants, bars and public events all able to operate as they were prior to the pandemic.
On Wednesday, an open letter penned by 80 of Australia’s top business leaders shared Mr Downer’s view calling for a ‘clear path out of the current lockdowns’.
They urged state governments across the country to ‘stay the course’ on the national roadmap set out by the Doherty Institute so residents and businesses can plan for life after the pandemic.
CEO of Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott said the nation must have a ‘careful, gradual reopening’ based on health advice.
‘We’re asking for a simple reason: we need to plan; whether you’re a family that needs to plan to see your loved ones, whether you’re small business that needs to stock up or whether you’re a big business that’s got a project going.
‘Our point is very clear: we need a light at the end of the tunnel because you’re starting the see the strain on people as this goes on and on.’
In response to the Twitter storm, Mr Downer went on the offensive against ‘lefties’ and defended his post
Mr Downer (pictured with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip) is now based in London after taking up the post of Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2018 and then transitioning into a role as an international policy consultant
Commenters responding to Mr Downer were quick to point out that France has experienced the sixth-highest number of Covid cases in the world with 6.7 million infections resulting in the deaths of 114,000 residents.
In comparison Australia has seen about 55,000 cases and just over 1,000 fatalities.
‘Brother lives in France… He watched mass graves being dug, people turned away from hospitals, dying in their homes & streets,’ one person commented. ‘Glossing over of these facts shows your bias and lack of humanity.’
Others noted that France has been able to open up because their vaccination rate is nearly double that of Australia, due to the bungled due to the ‘pathetic vaccine rollout’ of his former party.
‘France did a massive lockdown champ, but also did better on vaccines. Morrison failed us,’ a commenter said.
Independent Australian politician Tony Windsor wrote sarcastically: ‘Enjoy your stay Alex.’
‘Mostly only old people dying here, few younger ones and sick children … the blacks are facing disastrous consequences from pathetic vaccine rollout but that’s never worried you nation builders has it.’
Liberal candidate Georgina Downer (second 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
‘Thanks for your interest in our welfare… have some cake,’ referring to infamous words uttered by 17th century French Queen Marie-Antoinette before she was beheaded by anti-monarchists.
The exact date of when Australia’s endless cycle of lockdowns and border closure will cease remains unclear.
But the federal government has flagged that most freedoms will be reinstated once vaccination levels reach 80 per cent which could happen before the end.
They have also targeted a return to international travel by mid-2022.
Qantas has hinted a possible travel bubble including New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, US and Japan could also get the green light for fully vaccinated Australians before Christmas.
Alexander Downer on French holiday slammed for ‘tone deaf and entitled’ tweet about lockdowns