Australia's economy shrank 0.3 percent in the first three months of this year, official data showed Wednesday, setting the country on track for its first technical recession in 29 years as it reeled from the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking with reporters in Canberra, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged that the country is already in recession, with Treasury department figures predicting the economic fallout in the April-June period to be "far more severe than what we have seen today."
The January-March period marked the first quarterly gross domestic product decline since 2011, according to local media. Australian Bureau of Statistics data also showed GDP expansion slowed to 1.4 percent year on year, well below the long-term average of 3.4 percent.
"This was the slowest through-the-year growth since September 2009 when Australia was in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and captures just the beginning of the expected economic effects of COVID-19," the bureau's chief economist, Bruce Hockman, said in a statement.
In addition to the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on economies around the world, Australia experienced a series of natural disasters, including the devastating bushfires of the summer of 2019-2020, during the first quarter, which had a significant impact on the nation's economy.
The last time Australia experienced a recession was in 1991.