It will be virtually impossible for Australia to avoid an economic contraction while the global economy suffers its worst economic slump in decades, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said.

With a global tide that is continuously building in its intensity and ferocity, it will be virtually impossible for Australia to avoid a period of negative growth, Swan said in a speech given in Sidney on Monday.

However, the Treasurer added that Australia is still faring better than other developed nations.

Earlier in the month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the country's economy contracted 0.5% in the fourth quarter, despite economist expectations for a 0.2% increase.

By Todd Wailoo, twailoo@economicnews.ca