“Picking winning industrial projects, and backing them with public funds, could be a key part of a Rudd Labor future, if his past is any guide,” The Australian reports today. Seriously.

I hoped Richard Farmer’s piece on Rudd and manufacturing yesterday was just a wind up, like something I’d write on the Greens. Apparently not.

Well, the rent seekers will be popping the corks – or trying to find someone to foot the bill for their celebrations.

So will our future be as some kind of minor-league France, with dirigiste “industry plans” à la mode? The Oz points to Rudd’s time with Wayne Goss. It could, however, point to the “State Economic Strategy” of John Cain and its spectacular failures.

Is this really where Rudd would like to take us? With someone like Simon Crean in charge? All the while professing his free trade credentials? Has he forgotten our membership of the World Trade Organisation and all the free trade agreements we’ve been signing? Is he an unexpected Jack McEwen fan?

One is almost tempted to cry “Come back Beazley, all is forgiven!” – until one remembers that the Bomber was busy taking us back to the 1940s. At least Rudd is trying to limit the backwards lurch to the early 70s.

The Labor Dry warned Rudd on Friday: “In less than twelve months you’ve got to ungel 10 years of blancmange”. So can we aim for the mid-80s and some decent Labor reform?

Peter Fray

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