Alexander Downer France holiday tweet: Don't get mad about it - get even

Read the room, Mr Downer. When the bulk of Australia's citizens are mired in lengthy lockdowns through no fault of their own, battling the effects of a vaccine "stroll-out" commanded entirely by the political party you so famously were a part of – maybe that isn't the time to boast about your holiday in France?

And yet, just a few days ago Australia's former foreign minister and now executive chair for something or other at King's College in London, Alexander Downer, elected to do just that. Downer tweeted a photo of a charming stone church in the French countryside with the caption: "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!"

Ah. Thank you, Mr Downer. How nice for you.

The tweet caused predictable outrage among those currently suffering under said damaging lockdowns in Australia. Some pointed out that France hadn't "learned" to live with COVID-19, so much as been forced to. Others floated the idea that perhaps it was easier to live with the virus when more citizens have had access to vaccinations. Others still weren't quite as polite.

Regardless, the overriding sentiment was one of rage. And reasonably enough, too. No one likes having their nose rubbed in others' overseas adventures at the best of times. And this is definitely not the best of times.

However, I saw a little more to it. This tweet doesn't have to be a total downer, so to speak. It could, in fact, be inspiration. Don't get mad at Downer and his tone-deaf ilk – get even.

We can get even by getting vaccinated. We can get even by slogging through this lockdown and making it out the other side with a country in reasonable shape. We can get even by getting ourselves back to a point – as quickly as possible – where the rest of us have the opportunity to have a holiday in France too.

I still have a lot of friends based in the northern hemisphere, and I see the stuff they're doing at the moment, and to be honest it's not dissimilar to Downer – only without the ill-advised triumphalism. Friends in Rome taking holidays in Capri, eating spaghetti alle vongole on sunny terraces. Friends in the UK enjoying the summer, planning quick jaunts to Sardinia or considering the south of Spain. Fellow journalists, based in London, taking tours through French wine country.


If you follow sport, you've seen this too, regardless of your social media presence. You've seen pictures of the English Premier League being played in front of full stadiums, hordes of people who were locked down just like us not so long ago now out enjoying themselves, living their lives, achieving something close to the new "normal". The same in the US.

That old question, "Do you want to turn out like them?" has been flipped on its head. Yes. Yes we do want to turn out like them. This is now something for us to aspire to, and something for us to be inspired by.

And we're doing it – we really are.

The rate of vaccination uptake in Australia is now sky-high, even if the roll-out started slow. More supply is on its way over the next couple of months. World-class levels of 70 and 80 per cent double-vaccinated are within touching distance and in all likelihood will be hit. There is an end to this tedium. We will, at some point, stop lurching from one damaging lockdown to another, as Mr Downer so helpfully advises.

We just have to keep getting jabs in arms. And Australians are good at this sort of stuff. We've always had some of the highest rates of vaccination in the world when we have had access to the materials. We will get there.

There's no sense getting mad at Alexander Downer, as cathartic and righteous as that may seem right now. It's bad for your mental health, if nothing else. Put down the Twitter feed.

Instead, focus on the future he's presenting, the future that is the "now" in much of Western Europe. Don't get mad, get even. Get vaccinated. That's our only way out of this, our only chance of following in Downer's footsteps and once again being able to indulge our love of travel and our joy in being part of the wider world.

Watch what your friends in the northern hemisphere are up to right now and feel jealous, for sure. See those EPL games and wonder why it isn't the same for us. Take Downer's boasting and let it sting. But let's channel all that into something good. Roll up your sleeves, and let's do this.

The world awaits.

See also: Want to be allowed out of Australia? Here's what you have to do

See also: I spent $40,000 and five weeks in quarantine to not see my family