Ever since being dumped from the Prime
Ministership, Tony Abbott initially harboured a desire to become prime minister
again, but only had to be satisfied with the demise of the prime ministership
of Malcolm Turnbull. Losing his seat of Warringah at the last election seems to
have made him realise that the prime ministership is forever out of his grasp.
As a consequence of that and the demise of his marriage, he seems to be
suffering what many in the public eye undergo when they are finally ejected
from the front pages or screens of the media, and that is relevance deficit
disorder. It is a common problem, with perhaps the worst and most obvious recent
cases of this ailment being Bettina Arndt1 and Mark Latham2. All are prone to
making contrarian statements in an attempt to shock people and create a frenzy of
annoyance, thereby getting the required media attention.
Abbott has railed against “health
dictatorships”, saying politicians need to balance the economic costs of an
extreme lockdown against allowing more elderly Covid-19 patients to die by letting
‘nature’ take its course. He said it was costing the Australian government as
much as $200,000 to give an elderly person an extra year’s life, substantially
beyond what governments would usually pay for life-saving drugs. He said not
enough politicians were “behaving like health economists trained to pose
uncomfortable questions about the level of deaths we might have to live with”3.
In this speech, Abbott effectively claimed that some lives are worth less than
others, and that those lives should be allowed to end earlier than they
otherwise would, because of the cost to the economy.
Tiergartenstrasse is a
street in the Tiergarten area of Berlin. In the 1930s and 1940s, Number 4 on
this street was the site of offices of the Chancellery of the Führer.
In a directive issued in October 1939, Adolf Hitler empowered his personal
physician, Dr. Karl Brandt, and the chief of the Chancellery, Philipp Bouhler, to
kill people considered unworthy of living. In this directive, the doctor and
the Chancellery chief were ‘charged with responsibility for expanding the
authority of physicians…so that patients considered incurable, according to the
best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy
killing’. The people targeted in this program were the incurably ill, physically or mentally disabled,
emotionally upset, and the elderly. This program was termed Aktion T4, the T4
coming from the address of the Chancellery from where it was directed4.
Within a few months this T4 Program involved
virtually the entire German psychiatric community. A new bureaucracy, headed by
physicians, was established with a mandate to kill anyone deemed to have a
“life unworthy of living.” The criteria for inclusion in this program were not
exclusively genetic, nor were they necessarily based on infirmity. An important
criterion was economic. Nazi officials assigned people to this program largely
based on their economic productivity. The Nazis referred to the program’s
victims as “burdensome lives” and “useless eaters”4.
While Abbott does not advocate murder, he
does advocate neglect, and uses similar reasoning as those involved in Aktion
T4, and that reasoning is much more common than you would hope among members of
the Coalition parties5 and Murdoch’s
verminous ‘ruperters’6, many of whom constantly rail against the
lockdown in Victoria.
Research from the Burnet Institute recently
published in the Medical Journal of Australia, shows that Victoria’s response
to the resurgence of Covid-19 averted between 9000 and 37,000 cases between
July 2 and July 30. Based on a mortality rate of 3.4% estimated by the World
Health Organisation, that means the restrictions may have potentially saved
1258 lives7. If Abbott had been in a position of power to stop this
life-saving lockdown, and did so, how would he differ from any other