Factcheck: Scott Morrison says Australia is a world leader in Covid recovery. Is he right? | Coronavirus

At the Liberal party launch on Sunday, Scott Morrison declared that Australia had the best Covid recovery in the world.

He said:

Our economic growth was higher than any other advanced economy; our AAA credit rating is intact, one of only nine countries to do that in the world … Australia’s recovery is leading the advanced world on almost every measure of growth, jobs, debt levels, fatality rates, and and vaccine rates.

But is Australia’s record as unimpeachable as that? And which countries are we referring to when we say the response is world-beating?

Economic growth

If the standard of “advanced economies” is G7 nations, then Morrison’s boast is correct, but if the middle is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, it is not.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia’s economy at the end of 2021 was 3.4% bigger than at the start of the pandemic (December quarter, 2019).

According to the OECD, that beats G7 nations over that period, although the US is a close second (3.1%), and France (0.9%) and Canada (0.2%) were also positive.

In the G20, however, Australia’s performance lags Turkey (14.5%), China (10.2%), and India (5.4%) – although these are developing economies, which in turn dragged the G20 average higher than Australia’s result (4.1%).

Broadening out further, some developed countries in the OECD performed even better.

Scott Morrison

Australia’s GDP shrank by 2.2% in 2020, then grew by 4.7% in 2021. Denmark bettered that performance (-2.1%, then up 4.7%), Israel (-2.1%, then up 7.9%), Ireland (up 5.9%, then up 13.5%), New Zealand (-2.1%, then up 5.6%), Norway (-0.7% then up 3.9%). Still, Australia had a better fourth quarter of 2021 than all these nations except Israel.


According to the OECD, Australia’s March 2022 unemployment rate of 3.954% is higher than the Czech Republic (2.3%), Germany (2.9%), Hungary (3.2%), Israel (3.8%), Japan (2.6%), Korea (2.7%), Mexico and the Netherlands (3.3%) and the US (3.6%).

So, let’s say this is one of the stats Morrison excluded with that all-important caveat that Australia wins on “almost every measure”.

Government debt

Australia’s government debt, 84.38% of GDP, is lower than the OECD average of 94.3% but higher than 24 other OECD countries.

These include Germany (78.66%), Israel (73.16%), Sweden (59.73%), Korea (58.77%), and New Zealand (55.33%).


Australia has now had a total of 7,794 Covid deaths: 2,239 in 2020 and 2021 and 5,555 in 2022 so far.

In a November 2021 paper on excess mortality since January 2020, Australia beat almost all OECD countries except Denmark, Iceland, Korea, and Norway.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 dashboard, Australia reported 246 Covid deaths in the last seven days, more than several countries with larger populations, including Germany (220), South Africa (159), and Spain (94).

The United Kingdom reported 377 deaths in the last week, despite having a population of 67m, more than double Australia’s (25.7m).

While Australia’s death rate was relatively low in the first two years of the pandemic, the health response is no longer world-beating.

Vaccine rates

According to the WHO, Australia sits near the top countries ranked by total vaccine doses per 100 people, with 227 jabs per 100 people.

Australia is nevertheless behind: New Zealand (229), China (231), Singapore (239), Korea (244), and some countries with much smaller populations.

Australia is also doing better on the measure of primary vaccine doses than on several people who have received their booster. By the action of people boosted, much of Europe – including Italy, Germany, France, and Greece – is beating Australia.


On most measures, Australia’s economic and health response to Covid-19 has been better than other comparable nations over the first two years.

But Australia’s world-beating health response is now a thing of the past. After Australia ended its strict caps on international arrivals and other domestic health restrictions, fatalities have increased despite high vaccination rates.

On the economic measure elevated by Morrison, growth, his claim is true in comparison to the G7 but not the OECD.

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.