Former prime minister Paul Keating (Image: AAP/Alan Porritt)

The last time Australia had a recession, it wasn’t merely fashion, hair styles and media that were different. Economic policymaking was very different, too.

The technical “recession that we had to have” never technically happened: Paul Keating uttered that line in November 1990 after the release of the September quarter national accounts by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which showed the second contraction in a row after the June quarter.

But the June quarter result was already being revised higher even then. All these years later, the June 1990 quarter is estimated to have grown 0.1%, not contracted. Remember that on Wednesday, when the ABS releases the June 2020 quarter national accounts.