Australia, the competent country

Written by on February 11, 2021

As the rest of the world struggles, Australia is leading the world in its Covid response

This week the Australian Open has kicked off in Melbourne. The first of the big grand slams on the tennis calendar, the Australian Open takes on a new significance this year. Not only does it represent Australia’s sporting clout but it is a visible demonstration of how far Australia has come in its Covid response.

With much of the world in freefall Australia is beginning to resemble a sense of normality. Students are back at school, bars and pubs have reopened and music festivals are going ahead albeit under a raft of new restrictions.

Not that there haven’t been mistakes and tragedy. The Ruby Princess incident of March 2020 led to a spike in cases and 28 deaths. The failure of hotel quarantine in Victoria put the state into one of the harshest lockdowns in the world. All up Australia has lost 909 people to the virus.

However, despite the fact that one death is one too many, Australia has proved itself relatively competent in handling the virus. On the economic front, even opponents of the Morrison government have admitted that on the whole the stimulus package handed out was successful. Australia’s economy is rebounding and the consumer confidence is on an upward trajectory.  

In comparison Europe is in a state of complete meltdown. Countries like the UK are reporting out of control death tolls, in the Netherlands there have been anti lockdown riots, Italy’s government has collapsed due to disagreements relating to Covid management and recently it was revealed that the EU commission has serious issues with the rollout of the vaccine.

In the United States the situation is, arguably, even worse. Admittedly the United States isn’t encumbered by the amount of bureaucracy Europe has, and with the right decisions may recover faster.

Though there are many differences between Australia, Europe and United States it can’t be denied that Australia has handled the whole situation better. Australia had closed its borders early on and initiated a vigorous hotel quarantine, the UK has only just decided to implement a similar process (ironically based on Australia’s model). Australian leaders were never in denial, other foreign leaders were.  Australian lockdowns were thorough and fair, Europe tried to balance healthcare and the economy and lost out on both (night time curfew doesn’t help when the virus doesn’t go to sleep). 

Australians can’t be complacent at this stage. But the fact that we can host a tennis tournament, including crowds of spectators, has shown that Australia is on the right track and is the envy of much of the world. And for that we can thank our governments, both federal and state, and each other.  

Gabriel Garcia is a writer with a background in International Studies, History and Media

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