Australia's economic growth ground to a near halt in the second-half of 2018, official data showed Wednesday, thrusting the issue to the front and centre of an already contentious general election campaign.
The figures released by Australia's statistics agency showed growth for October to December at 0.2 percent, after a 0.3 percent reading in the previous three months.
"Growth in the economy was subdued, reflecting soft household spending and a decline in dwelling investment," the Bureau of Statistics' chief economist Bruce Hockman said in a statement. "The approvals for dwelling construction indicate that the decline in dwelling investment will continue."
Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has based his re-election campaign on stewardship of the economy and allegations that a centre-left Labor party government would spell an end to 28 years of continuous growth.
Annual growth came in at 2.3 percent but the pace of expansion in the second-half of 2018 -- the weakest since the central bank last cut interest rates in August 2016 -- slowed considerably as consumer spending weakened and storm clouds gathered in the long-booming housing market.
Public expenditure jumped by 1.8 percent for the period and contributed 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth, while household consumption came in at a soft 0.4 percent.