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Australia economy gathers pace, but confidence still lags

Published on Jun 4, 2014 11:33 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia boasted its fastest growth in two years last quarter as exports surged by the most since 1999, though the long-awaited revival may have already been endangered by a government crusade for fiscal rectitude.

The year certainly started well enough, as the economy expanded by 1.1 per cent in the first quarter, up from 0.8 per cent in the last three months of 2013.

That topped already bullish forecasts of 1.0 per cent growth and seemed to sit at odds with the insistence by Tony Abbott's Liberal National government that a tough budget was needed to fix the country's finances.

The ideologically conservative plan contains a mix of tax rises and higher charges for education and health care along with a clamp down on pension and unemployment benefits.

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