The most insidious and damaging form of protectionism in Australia is the target of a new report by the Productivity Commission, which concludes anti-dumping measures -- imposing additional tariffs on goods deemed to have been imported below cost -- is so dumb an idea, and so damaging to the economy, that Australia should walk away from it entirely.

Australia, like many countries, operates an anti-dumping system in which affected industries can complain to a regulator, the Anti-Dumping Commission, that a foreign competitor is importing products below cost. The commission can impose punitive tariffs to drive the price of the imports up. Earlier this month, to protect local canner SPC Ardmona, Italian tomato imports were slapped with additional tariffs after the ADC found they were being dumped in Australia.