There is a widespread belief, at least within Australia, that Qantas has, or had, an above-average safety record. For example, AirlineRatings.com recently listed Qantas as the world's safest airline, which was reported on by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media. Personally speaking, it seems like aircraft incidents with Qantas or JetStar get more coverage than those involving other airlines, but I can't verify that.
I'm skeptical of the belief that Qantas has an above-average safety record, let alone being the safest airline in the world.
From the Wikipedia article List of Qantas fatal accidents, I know that Qantas hasn't had any fatal jet airliner incidents, and the last accident it had was in 1951. However, I don't know whether aircraft accidents are so rare that an airline can have a better average than others because of chance alone.
I'm not doubting that some countries have safer airlines than others. If offered the choice between Qantas and Air Koryo, I'd definitely choose the former. I also don't doubt that some countries are safer to fly in than others - for example, planes in Australia don't have to deal with snow very often. However, I don't expect that to be a major factor. So I'm ultimately interested in a comparison between Qantas and airlines from countries that are comparable to Australia.
Did Qantas have a perception of having an extraordinary safety record before the 1988 movie Rain Man, where the titular character said that Qantas never crashed?
Is there enough data to say that Qantas is the safest airline in the world, or even say that it's safer than similar airlines, such as the ones Raymond refused to get on in the movie?