04/12/2019 - 09:29

Economic growth remains at snail's pace

04/12/2019 - 09:29

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Australia's GDP showed only a slight expansion in the last three months, while WA's state final demand fell by 0.2 per cent for the quarter - the second weakest performing state.

Economic growth remains at snail's pace
The ABS says growth rate still remains below the long-run average.

Australia's GDP showed only a slight expansion in the last three months, while Western Australia's state final demand fell by 0.2 per cent for the quarter - the second weakest performing state.

Investment in WA dwellings increased by only 0.3 per cent over the quarter and consumption rose by a slim 0.1 per cent.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA chief executive Chris Rodwell said increased spending on essentials was offset by a decline in discretionary spending of 0.9 per cent, and that the state has made no progress since the same time last year.

"Today’s economic growth figures reveal WA's domestic economy has operated on a treadmill of low growth for the past year, reflecting the need for both state and federal governments to look at options to improve the competitiveness of businesses to stimulate higher growth," he said

Mr Rodwell said the state's flat performance was in line with CCIWA's forecasts.

"Today’s results demonstrate that nothing can be taken for granted in the search for WA’s economic recovery," he said

"There are a number of recent decisions that have been made to support strong economic growth. These include fast-tracking federal infrastructure projects, the creation of the Australian Business Growth Fund and lessening the payroll tax burden on WA businesses.

"However all tiers of government need to look at options to further boost the competitiveness of WA businesses.

"CCIWA urges the state government to accelerate the Streamline WA process, repeal its outdated shopping restrictions and enable Roe 8 to be independently assessed. All three items should help WA achieve higher economic growth."

South Australia was the weakest performing state, with economic growth falling 0.3 per cent over the quarter, while growth in Northern Territory remained flat.

ACT recorded the highest growth for the quarter of 1.1 per cent.

Economic growth across the country lifted slightly from 1.4 per cent to 1.7 per cent, but continues to fall short of what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg promised heading into this year's federal election.

The latest national accounts backed Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe's view that Australia has reached a "gentle turning point".

But it is still well short of the 2.75 per cent predicted for the financial year when Mr Frydenberg handed down his pre-election budget in April.

"The economy has continued to grow, however the rate of growth remains well below the long-run average," Australian Bureau of Statistics chief economist Bruce Hockman said.

The treasurer told reporters the government will update the forecasts in mid-year budget which is due before Christmas.

"But the story today is that despite the headwinds, domestic and international, we see the Australian economy continuing to grow," Mr Frydenberg said.

However, growth in the September quarter was weaker than economists had expected at 0.4 per cent after an upwardly revised 0.6 per cent in the June quarter.

The central bank left the official cash rate at a record low 0.75 per cent at its monthly board meeting on Tuesday.

After the meeting, Dr Lowe said the economy appeared to have reached a "gentle turning point", believing that growth will lift to around 3 per cent in 2021.

However, financial markets still believe there is a 50/50 chance the Reserve Bank will be forced to cut the cash rate to 0.50 per cent in February after the board's summer recess.

Three interest cuts and personal income tax reductions this year have failed to give the economy a major boost.

"The reduction to tax payable did not translate to a rise in discretionary spending, which led to a visible impact to household saving," Mr Hockman said.

With the household sector remaining subdued, the main contributions to growth in the quarter came from exports and government spending.

"Of course, we would like to see consumption to be higher, there is no doubt about that, but obviously people are getting more money in their pocket through the tax cuts," the treasurer said.

The Australian Taxation Office told AAP that as of December 2, it had issued over 8.8 million in individual income tax refunds for the 2018-19 financial years with a total value of $24.8 billion.

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