Economic growth got off to a slow start in October, as consumer spending remained lacklustre and exports tumbled, new figures suggest.
Even so, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has made a bold promise of more jobs even as domestic growth struggles to gain momentum.
The latest national accounts released on Wednesday showed economic growth slowed to just 0.4 per cent in the September quarter as household spending shrank to its lowest level since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
October retail trade data released on Thursday showed no improvement after the limp 0.2 per cent rise in September, despite three interest rate cuts this year and billions of dollars worth of personal income tax reductions.
"Given the boost to household income from the higher tax offsets, the data suggests that households may be becoming more cautious with their spending," BIS Oxford Economics chief economist Sarah Hunter said.
If Prime Minister Scott Morrison was disappointed with people paying off debt rather than spending, he wasn't showing it.
He said his promise to the Australian people was he wanted them to earn more and keep more of what they earn.
"What Australians do with their own money is up to them," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
But shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said it is further sign that while the prime minister and his treasurer are dithering "the economy deteriorates around them".
"This (retail) result is more evidence that Australian families and workers are struggling under the burden of record household debt, stagnant wages and skyrocketing bills," Dr Chalmers told AAP.
The national accounts a day earlier showed annual economic growth ticked higher to 1.7 per cent, although this was the result of revisions to past figures.
Mr Frydenberg predicted growth of 2.75 per cent for this financial year in his April budget, but says this will be updated when he releases his mid-year review before Christmas.
The Reserve Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have all downgraded Australia's growth forecasts in recent months.
"Australia does face challenging global and domestic economic conditions," the treasurer told reporters.
"But what we will continue to see is jobs growth and economic growth and we will continue to see Australia perform well compared to other economies around the world."
His predictions on employment growth came in a week when job advertising data - a pointer to future hiring - slumped by nearly 13 per cent over the year.
Exports were a major contribution to economic growth in the September quarter, although new data suggests this may have now turned a corner.
Monthly international trade figures showed the trade surplus narrowed to $4.5 billion in October from a downwardly revised $6.8 billion in September.
This was largely due to a five per cent drop in exports.