Coronavirus has not so much changed us as unmasked us — yes, I get the irony — and what we find is not pretty.
In January 2020 we were one and free.
Less than two years later, the states have barricaded themselves off from each other, state premiers have divided citizens against one another, and public figures now openly suggest medical care should be denied to fellow Australians.
It is this last trend, most recently promoted by former NSW Premier and Australian foreign affairs minister Bob Carr, that is most chilling.
The senior ALP figure last night tweeted:
Bob Carr didn’t say if he also wanted us to follow Singapore’s lead in executing drug criminals, jailing people for selling chewing gum and fining people for walking around their own homes naked.
At this point Carr just wants to ensure that universal healthcare does not apply universally, but only to those whose medical decisions he agrees with.
According to the Labor Party statesman, if you are unvaccinated and get sick then you are stupid and the rest of us aren’t here to help you.
Now lift your voices and sing together: “I am, you are, we are Australian!”
The virus has not just affected our lungs. It has darkened our hearts.
Bob Carr used to travel the world promoting human rights. He now imagines healthcare as a punitive measure.
The thin veneer of civility in this country is even thinner than we dared imagine.
It is not coincidental that Carr’s tweet came just eight hours after the Queensland Premier had said unvaccinated citizens did not “deserve” freedom.
It’s only a small step from ‘unvaccinated people don’t deserve to go to the shop’, to ‘unvaccinated people don’t deserve to be treated in a public hospital’.
I wonder if Carr believes we should apply the same principle to other decisions he doesn’t like.
Should universal healthcare also be withheld from smokers or obese people or drink drivers or people who don’t get the flu shot or j-walkers or skydivers?
Can you imagine a politician insisting no medical or hospital expenses should be reimbursed if a person has unprotected sex and contracts HIV? See how evil that sounds?
Should the sick and infirmed first appear before a tribunal comprised of their betters to determine liability before they are either admitted to hospital or scolded and sent home in an Uber?
We are better than this. Or at least we should be.
We should care for the sick. Period. Not ‘the sick we deem worthy’.
Famed French microbiologist Louis Pasteur — who developed both the cholera and the rabies vaccines — insisted “tu souffres, cela suffit” which, translated, means “you are suffering, that is enough”.
It is the motto of St George Hospital in Sydney, just a short drive from Matraville where Bob Carr was born.
It is a reminder that we ought to help our fellow man to the best of our ability, even if he has made choices of which we do not approve. It’s called civil society, which used to be a thing before Covid caused everyone to cough up their conscience.
But if, God forbid, we do decide that stupid decisions disqualify patients from taxpayer-funded healthcare, let’s also agree that stupid tweets disqualify ex-politicians from their taxpayer-funded pensions.
You wouldn’t have a problem with that would you Bob?
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