Australia's economy squeezed out just enough growth last quarter to match the Netherlands' record of 103 quarters without recession.

But the country's stamina is in doubt as households struggle with paltry wage rises and punishing debt. 

Government data today showed gross domestic product (GDP) rose a weak 0.3% in the first quarter, a pullback from the previous quarter's rapid 1.1%. 

Today's figures should be a relief for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) which just the day before conceded the March quarter would likely disappoint. 

But the central bank expressed confidence growth would pick up over the next couple of years to above 3%, and held interest rates at a record low 1.5% where they have been since last August. 

Australia has not seen a recession since 1991 and growth regularly outpaced its peers in recent years.

But that changed in the March quarter when annual growth braked to 1.7%, below the 2% achieved by the US and the UK. 

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed output for the 12 months to March amounted to A$1.72 trillion in current dollars, or about A$71,000 for each of the country's 24 million people. 

Treasurer Scott Morrison blamed bad weather for much of the slowdown and argued things could only get better as the year progressed. 

Morrison launched his annual budget just a month ago and already its economic projections are looking ambitious. 

Many economists suspect the current quarter will be marred by the giant cyclone that barrelled through Queensland in late March and caused weeks of disruption to coal exports. 

Perhaps the most worrying risk to growth is subdued consumer spending as Australians are burdened by record-low wage growth and high levels of mortgage debt. 

The share of GDP contributed by wages is at its lowest since September 1964. 

Household consumption grew at just 2.3% in the year to March, half the pace that was considered normal a decade ago. 

Household debt is a dangerously high 189% of disposable income and well above much of the rich world. 

To maintain their spending habits Australians are having to save less. The savings ratio dropped to 4.7% in the March quarter, a fall of two full percentage points in just a year and the lowest since late 2008.