Australia’s economic journey since last recession

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


A recession is classified as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.


1991 – Paul Keating’s “recession we had to have” ends. Reserve Bank cash rate 9.5 per cent.

1992 – Jobless rate hits record 11.2 per cent in December. RBA cash rate 5.75 per cent.

1996 – John Howard’s coalition wins government, appoints Peter Costello as treasurer. Ian Macfarlane becomes Reserve Bank governor.

1997-1999 – Asian financial crisis, Australia avoids recession.

2000 – Economy close to a recession in final two quarters of the year after the introduction of the GST.

2001 – bubble bursts. Australia avoids subsequent recession triggered in the US, having been previously ignored by investors as an “old economy” of agriculture and mining rather than making computer chips.

2006 – Glenn Stevens becomes RBA governor.

2007 – Kevin Rudd’s Labor party wins government, appoints Wayne Swan as treasurer.

2008 – Jobless rate falls to four per cent for the first time in February. RBA cash rate seven per cent. Growth contracts in the December quarter in initial reaction to the global financial crisis but Australia is one of few countries to avoid the subsequent worldwide recession.

2009 – RBA cash rate cut to three per cent, lowest on record at the time.

2010 – Julia Gillard rolls Rudd for Labor leadership, Swan remains treasurer.

2011 – Economy contracts in March quarter as a result of a series of natural disasters – Cyclone Yasi and the Queensland floods, along with the trade disruption from earthquakes in neighbouring New Zealand and Japan.

2013 – Rudd rolls Gillard, Chris Bowen becomes treasurer for 83 days. Tony Abbott’s coalition wins government, appoints Joe Hockey as treasurer.

2015 – Malcolm Turnbull rolls Abbott for prime ministership, Scott Morrison becomes treasurer.

2016 – Economy clocks up 25 years of unbroken expansion. Philip Lowe becomes RBA governor.

2017 – Economy pips the Netherlands for the longest run without a recession.

2018 – Scott Morrison wins Liberal party room ballot to become prime minister as Malcolm Turnbull steps aside after an attempt oust him. Josh Frydenberg becomes treasurer.

2020 – RBA cuts cash rate to record low 0.25 per cent, pre-empting a massive economic downturn because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economy contracts 0.3 per cent in March quarter.


  • Jobless rate jumps to a 22-month high of 7.5 per cent in July from 5.1 per cent in February. Number of people unemployed tops one million for the first time.
  • Economy contracts by 7.0 per cent in June quarter, the biggest drop since the Australian Bureau of Statistics started plotting the national accounts in the late 1950s and confirming the first recession in almost three decades.



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