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 mass-murderer?