‘When the latest GDP figures were released this week, media outlets around the country (including Guardian Australia) almost unanimously ran with the line celebrating that Australia had gone 26 years without a recession. It’s a worthy historical marker to applaud, but for workers at the moment, the records being broken are unlikely to bring much applause.
‘Twenty-six years without two consecutive quarters of negative growth is certainly a long time (even if, like me, you think that is a daft definition of a recession).
‘Over that period, Australia’s economy has grown almost as well as any other country in the OECD. Of the 26 OECD countries that existed in 1991, only Ireland, South Korea, Turkey and Luxembourg have grown faster than Australia.
‘Avoiding recessions is no small thing – they wreck lives. It took a decade for the percentage of Australian adults in employment to return to pre-1990s recession levels. The 1990s recession led to people in their 50s losing their jobs and not working again. If we had the level of unemployment that was reached in 1992 rather than the current number of 744,000 people unemployed, we would be talking about 1.4m people – that is a lot of families struggling to survive.’