Australia’s latest national accounts are less glowing than economists had expected, but the federal government and Labor remain divided on what the figures mean for people across the nation.
Labor has come out swinging against a “triple whammy” of weak wage growth, lower-than-expected spending and depleted household savings in the figures.
But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says it is ridiculous to suggest the Australian economy isn’t strong.
Opposition finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said the data has exposed a federal government “too divided and too distracted” to focus on the things that matter.
“The Morrison government has dropped the ball on the economy. That’s why we have slowing growth,” Mr Chalmers told reporters on Thursday.
“We’ve got a slowing economy, weak wages, weak savings, weak spending, and that’s because we have a desperately divided and dysfunctional Morrison LNP government here in Canberra,” he said.
Economic growth slowed to 0.3 per cent in the September quarter, and to 2.8 per cent over the year to September, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Wednesday showed.
That missed market expectations of 0.6 per cent growth for the quarter and 3.3 per cent growth for the year.
Household consumption was among the biggest contributors to growth but was slightly softer than expected, with a dip in business investment dragging on growth.
The household saving ratio – which reflects how much of their pay Australians are saving – declined to 2.4 per cent in the quarter, the lowest it has been since December 2007.
But Mr Frydenberg said Australia’s economy is a “very strong story”.
“At 2.8 per cent the Australian economy is growing faster than any G7 nation except the United States. We’re growing faster than the OECD average,” he told ABC radio.
Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said there is great opportunity right now in the economy and the coalition is determined for all Australians to feel it.
“We want to make sure that that economic opportunity and the economic prosperity that flows from that economic opportunity is shared by all Australians,” she told reporters.
The discussion comes as October retail spending figures, released on Thursday, were a little better than market expectations.
Seasonally adjusted retail spending for October was $26.99 billion, up from September’s revised 0.1 per cent lift to $26.89 billion.
The result was slightly better than the expected 0.2 per cent rise.