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Two prominent coronavirus lockdown critics were forced to defend themselves in a fiery Q&A on Thursday night, denying they said anyone over the age of 60 was "not worth it".
"That’s obviously a shocking claim and neither of us would never make that," The Australian’s economics editor Adam Creighton said on the ABC show, referencing fellow panelist University of NSW economist Gigi Foster.
The pair faced the accusation from emotional guest Louise Ihlein, 60, via video who said she was "so upset" with the platform they were given during the height of the pandemic to spruik their views that the virus should not be suppressed at great cost to the economy.
— QandA (@QandA) March 25, 2021
"It was just disgraceful... we're not a commodity," she said, revealing their stance had previously brought her to tears.
“I want to know how they live with themselves? And considering that I’ve just turned 60 and I’ve got an illness I’m not going to get better from, I want to know, do they want me got rid of?"
Yet Creighton denied he dismissed the value of anyone's life, including his own 65-year-old father, and argued all they were calling for was a "rational approach" to a pandemic.
"You don’t shut everything down and don’t force people to do things and don’t drag them screaming from cars at the border," he argued.
Creighton said he believed the world had "lost its mind over Covid" and told the audience: "We're all going to die of something."
Sam Mostyn, president of Chief Executive Women, interrupted Creighton arguing the UK, which had allowed its residents the freedom to travel during mid-2020, was now in a worse off position than Australia economically while now also facing an extended lockdown period.
Creighton dismissed her claims.
Economist doubles down on Covid-19 remarks
Associate Professor Foster said she was "proud" of her stance on lockdowns and it was wrong to "forget about everything else that matters" other than Covid-19.
"There were very few people in Australia telling a sensible, sane story," she said.
"We need to do what's best for human welfare as a whole... and it is not determined solely by whether people are suffering and dying from Covid."
Appearing incensed with the previous criticism she has received, Ms Foster said she believed the world "went mad".
When pressed on deaths by host Hamish Macdonald, she interrupted arguing the amount of Covid deaths were far outweighed by deaths by other causes.
"Every day we lose 300, 400 people. In total from Covid we have lost fewer than 1000. And for that we have gone hundreds of billions of dollars into debt," she said.
Australia has recorded 909 Covid deaths since the pandemic began.
According to Treasury chief Steven Kennedy, there are few countries that have achieved what Australia has in responding to last year's recession – relatively good health outcomes, smaller economic impacts and, now, rapid recovery.
Twitter hits out at 'offensive' behaviour
And while some social media users expressed their anger over Creighton's stance on Covid-19 lockdowns, including Melbourne GP Dr Vyom Sharma who asked why someone who is "famously wrong" given airtime, he drew widespread criticism for his attitude towards women on the show.
Dozens accused him of speaking over Mostyn throughout the show, a move that enraged viewers during a time of major reflection on the injustices of women right across the nation.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull led the criticism, asking: "Who is this arrogant tosser talking over the top of Sam Mostyn. Did he miss the memo?"
Four Corners reporter Louise Milligan called Creighton's "patronising" behaviour "offensive".
Others accused him, and fellow panelist Stan Grant, of "mansplaining".
Just got home. Who is this arrogant tosser talking over the top of Sam Mostyn. Did he miss the memo? #qanda
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) March 25, 2021
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