Tony Abbott’s comments should grate, as a callous dismissal of the sick to save money is completely beyond the pale, and entirely within Hitler’s wheelhouse.
I can’t believe I am thinking this, let alone writing it, but some broadcast and written comments lately – including some from a former prime minister of this country – sound like something out of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Put crudely, the message from some popular commentators, economists and even former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is that we should just let old people die – to save the economy. If they get coronavirus in an aged care facility just leave them there to cark it.
Do any of these medically ignorant bleeps even know what pain you go through as you struggle to breathe and agonisingly die with tortured lungs over three or four weeks on and off a ventilator?
Jesus wept. These are people’s grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunties and uncles. Don’t these clinical, callous bastards have elderly relatives of their own?
Abbott, in London for his new dubious job as a trade envoy for Britain, attacked Victorian Premier Dan Andrews for running what he called a ‘health dictatorship’ and floated the, to me repugnant but growing aged care argument, that people in their 80s and 90s were going to die soon anyway. Just let nature take its course.
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Abbott used the callous dollar argument that it was costing the Australian government up to $200,000-a-year to give an elderly person an extra year on the planet which is much more than what the government would pay for life-saving drugs. Money over morality. Again.
Can people really be this brutally insensitive? These are real people. Loved people. Cherished people. If you had $200,000 to keep your mum or dad alive for another year wouldn’t you spend it? Wouldn’t Tony Abbott?
The other thing that is really pissing me off, in the virulent Twitter debate about Covid-19, is the dangerously specious argument: Did they die from Covid-19 or did they die with Covid-19. Who gives a bleep? They died for crissake.
An elderly Australian may have cancer, may have a heart condition, may be terminal, may be crippled in a nursing home. But, if they didn’t contract coronavirus, they may have lived for a few more months, or even a few more years. Giving them time for more precious moments with their grandchildren. Is that wrong?
I’ll concede, I may be a bit biased here. I’m in my seventies, have had an organ transplant and (with a medically suppressed immune system) I am in the top 5% of possible virus targets.
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I am also under no Camelot illusions here. As a senator, I visited a lot of aged care facilities around Australia. Some of them are shithouse. Dan Andrews was being frank and very honest when he said he wouldn’t put his mother in some of them. I have written before about memories of kerosene baths in aged care centres when Bronwyn Bishop was Health minister. And, isn’t it obscene that Tony ‘let them die’ Abbott was also once Minister for Health. As long as you are young, of course.
I’ve issued this warning before. Don’t let the politicians, Liberal and Labor, try to load (and excuse) all aged care problems onto Covid-19. Our treatment of elderly Australians has been abominable for years. Go back to when Prime Minister John Howard changed the rules and made private ownership a licence to print money. The name Ramsey comes to mind.
In the Senate, I backed the nurses and midwives’ campaign to get nurses and carers ratios installed in all aged care facilities across the country. I was about as popular as a piece of pork in a synagogue. I could not get a single supporting vote from the Liberals, the Nationals, Labor or the Greens. They did not want to know. They were very well aware. We staged a rally in Moonee Ponds, in the middle of Bill Shorten’s electorate when he was Labor leader.
The one thing that has always intrigued me about Japanese culture is the way they revere age. They respect their elders. We don’t. Except when your parents can help out with a deposit on your first home. And, of course, they are convenient (and cheap) babysitters.
The Abbott comments just underscore that older Australians are treated with no respect. I won’t be at all surprised if some politician, or economist, makes the point soon that Covid-19 has dramatically reduced the aged pension bill by billions.
Some of our commentators are that cynical.
I’ll conclude by going back to something that, I know, now sounds corny because I have been saying it for so long on radio, television and (briefly) in Parliament.
‘The only difference between politicians and old people is that they got there first.’
Think about it, Mr. Abbott.