Several short lockdowns in the three months to June 30 did little to dampen household spending and investment, which helped push economic growth to a surprise 0.7 per cent for the quarter.
The solid outcome means Australia will avoid a technical double-dip recession, which was possible because gross domestic product is expected to contract between 2 per cent and 4.5 per cent this quarter.
It also reinforces an underlying strength in the economy, which is now 1.6 per cent larger than before the coronavirus pandemic started, and suggests growth is only being constrained by stay at home orders.
The data, however, reflect what happened more than three months ago, when lockdowns were rarer and shorter, Deloitte Access Economics partner Stephen Smith said. “The situation today looks very different.”
“The June quarter was the eye of the storm, with just 7 per cent of the population locked down on any given day across the period. Since then, that share has averaged close to 45 per cent, and we’re seeing the impacts of that flow through to businesses and jobs.
“As things currently stand, that suggests we could see the economy shrink in the September quarter by more than 4 per cent.”
Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government’s failure on the vaccine rollout meant the economy was now “bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars a day and billions of dollars a week”.
“The true cost of the Morrison government’s incompetence will be revealed in the September quarter, which covers the ongoing and protracted lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT,” he said.