Economy has grown 4.3% in 12 months

THE smile on Treasurer Wayne Swan's face said it all.

An ebullient Mr Swan used every adjective he could muster to describe the March national accounts report released on Wednesday, which showed Australia's economy had grown by a whopping 4.3% in the past 12 months.

It was the fastest annual rate of growth since 2007, and placed Australia ahead of most other developed economies.

And despite the economic crisis in Europe and uncertainty on world markets, Australia's gross domestic product - the value of a country's overall output of goods and services - grew by 1.3% for the March quarter.

Mr Swan said the "stunning" figures represented an "extraordinary picture of exceptional growth".

"The country should have a bounce in its step today. What a great day for Australia," a beaming Mr Swan said in Canberra.

Mr Swan, who was named Euromoney's Finance Minister of the Year in 2011, said the above trend growth was proof "something special was happening in our country".

He made repeated calls for the "doomsayers" and "naysayers" to stop talking down the economy.

The figures proved the benefits of the mining boom were being spread across the economy, which he said would continue to grow when the carbon price came into effect on July 1.

"Let's spend more time recognising our strengths, as well as looking at weakness," he said.

"We've been thought too much as a country these past few years to talk ourselves down and to make the impacts of global events worse on our economy."

But he did concede there were sectors of the economy "under stress", including the aluminium and manufacturing industries.

Growth for the quarter was driven by a 1% contribution from final consumption expenditure and a 0.9% contribution from business investment. The increases were partially offset by a -0.5% contribution from net exports and -0.1% contribution from dwelling investment.

The mining, professional, scientific and technical services and financial and insurance services industries drove the March quarter growth, each contributing 0.2% to growth in GDP.

Demand in Queensland grew by 7.5% in seasonally adjusted terms for the 12 months to March and by 1.9% in New South Wales.

The news added to a good week for the Federal Government on the economy after the Reserve Bank cut the cash rate by 0.25% on Monday.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said that decision was a sign of weakness in the Australian economy, but even he struggled to put a negative spin on the GDP result.

"Imagine our country would do if we had a good government" was about the best Mr Hockey could muster when he fronted the media in Sydney.

He said it was an "extraordinary result" that surprised everyone.

"This does demonstrate the resilience of the Australian people in the face of a flawed government," Mr Hockey said.

"It also demonstrates the resilience of the Australian economy in the face of a number of challenges."

Mr Hockey said the figures proved the mining boom belonged "to all Australians", adding now was not the time to introduce a mining or carbon tax.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the monthly employment figures on Thursday.

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