Australia’s annual rate of inflation has fallen to 3.6 percent, according to official figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Wednesday. The figure showed that the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 1.0 percent in the first three months of 2024 and 3.6 percent in the 12 months to the end of March. It marks a fall from a 4.1 percent rise in the CPI in the 12-month period to the end of December 2023. The ABS identified rising costs of education, health, housing, food and non-alcoholic beverages as the most significant drivers of inflation in the first quarter of 2024.

Housing prices were 0.7 percent higher at the end of March than at the start of 2024 and 4.9 percent higher than 12 months earlier. Michelle Marquardt, head of prices statistics at the ABS, said the quarterly rise in housing was primarily driven by rents. “Rental prices rose 2.1 percent for the quarter in line with low vacancy rates across the capital cities. Rents continue to increase at their fastest rate in 15 years,” she said in a media release. Education costs rose 5.9 percent in the three-month period and health costs by 2.8 percent. Meat and seafood prices fell by 0.7 percent in the same period but the costs of non-alcoholic beverages and fruit and vegetables rose.