Australian economy shrinks by 0.5 percent in latest quarter

16:29 | 09/12/2016 Global Economy

Australia has recorded its biggest economic fall since the global financial crisis and its first quarter of negative economic growth in recent five years, the nation's Treasurer, Scott Morrison confirmed on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its figures detailing the economic decline on Wednesday. They showed the Australian economy slowed by 0.5 percent in the September quarter and the annual growth rate had fallen to 1.8 percent, well below already-pessimistic expert predictions.

In a statement accompanying the figures, the ABS said the largest contributor to the slowing economy was the lower output in the nation's construction industry.

"The reduced building activity is reflected in the output of the construction industry which fell 3.6 per cent for the quarter and was the largest contributor to the fall in GDP growth on an industry basis," the ABS statement said.

In response to the figures, Morrison said he expected growth to jump back into the positive next quarter, following the recent passing of key building watchdog laws which he said would spur growth in the building and construction sectors. But he added that there was a need for the entire parliament to back the government's economic policies to achieve further future growth.

"Back in 2008 (the economy) was stagnant and there was not a lot happening, but the issue this time is business investment."

The Treasurer said attracting investment and money from both local enterprises and from overseas was the key to regenerating growth in key areas such as building, construction and business.

"This is why we are adamant about our enterprise tax plan and our infrastructure plan. We must attract the capital both internally and externally," he said.

Morrison said the government would continue to work towards its long-term goal of getting out of deficit and achieving budget balance by 2021, but shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said the result was "deeply concerning," criticizing the government's election slogan of "jobs and growth".

Theo Xinhua