View Comments
Swan thrilled by growth data
Swan thrilled by growth data

Treasurer Wayne Swan says the country should have a "bounce in its step" following the release of the best growth figures since September 2007.

The March quarter national accounts report showed annual gross domestic product soared to 4.3 per cent as the negative impact of the 2011 natural disasters passed through the data.

"What a stunning set of figures," Mr Swan told reporters in Canberra.

"I think these figures send the loudest possible message to the world that Australia is the strongest performing developed economy bar none."

Mr Swan said Australia was "an island of growth in the middle of global uncertainty".

"They are numbers that every Australian can feel proud," Mr Swan said.

"This result says something very special about Australia, about our people, our resilience, our hard work and our capacity to face up to the worst that the world can throw at us."

Mr Swan said every Australian should be proud about the GDP numbers.

"They are proof that something special is happening in our country," he said.

"Of course, they prove we are all bigger than the doomsayers and the naysayers in our community."

Mr Swan said the local economy grew faster than every single major advanced economy in the March quarter at 1.3 per cent.

In through-the-year terms the result was the fastest growth over four years which Mr Swan said had been the most turbulent period in the global economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The two significant drivers of growth were household consumption and business investment.

Household expenditure increased by 1.6 per cent in the quarter for an annual rate of 4.2 per cent, which was above its long-term trend.

Consumption growth was broad-based in the quarter with consumers taking advantage of price discounting by retailers, Mr Swan said.

Despite the rise in consumption, households continued to strengthen their balance sheets with the savings ratio still high at 9.3 per cent during the quarter.

The record pipeline of investment continued to "power ahead".

New private business investment grew by 5.5 per cent in the quarter to reach new record levels, and was 20 per cent higher through the year.

This was driven by exceptional growth of new engineering construction, which increased by nearly 20 per cent to be more than 50 per cent higher through the year.

That was one of its fastest annual rates in about 30 years.

Mr Swan said the investment pipeline in the resources sector was up to a record half a trillion dollars.

But half of that was for projects in an advanced stage.

"We can expect this investment to be lumpy in the quarters ahead as these projects are rolled out," the treasurer said.

He described them as an anchor for the economy in the face of global uncertainty.

Mr Swan took a swipe at the opposition and business heavyweights who were unfairly talking down the economy.

"This is part of legitimate debate, but I think it goes overboard," Mr Swan.

He said it was imperative to have a better informed public debate.

The latest data torpedoed all the scare campaigns run by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, he said.