Australia's growth nudges up in quarter
Australia's economy expanded a steady 0.6 per cent in the three months to June from the previous quarter, data the ruling Labor Party seized on yesterday as proof of its credentials days ahead of elections.
The figure was a slight improvement on the 0.5 per cent in the first three months of this year and in line with forecasts of 0.6 per cent. The year-on-year 2.6 per cent rate beat market expectations of 2.5 per cent.
The growth data thrust economic management back into the election debate as the commodities-powered economy undergoes a painful transition away from mining as a key driver of growth.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the figures, which were well below long-term averages of about 3.25 per cent, showed the country's resilience despite global difficulties.
"We've grown 15 per cent over the last five or six years. I draw your attention to the fact that the British economy has shrunk 3 per cent over the last six years," Rudd told reporters as he heads into Saturday's national vote.
"We now have had in Australia, as a result of strong economic management, 22 years of continued positive growth."
Australia was one of the only advanced economies to dodge recession during the global financial crisis, earning Rudd's government plaudits, and he has emphasised Labor's record as he seeks a third term in office for the centre-left party.
The conservative opposition - which opinion polls suggest will win - has also focused on economic management in its campaign, pointing to the current slowdown as evidence Labor has overspent.