This is a long rant, folks -- but it's important. At least, if you value your standard of living and that of your kids.

Recently, the Productivity Commission -- which has now replaced Treasury as the home of high-quality economic policy thinking in the Commonwealth -- sought submissions on new, achievable productivity-lifting reforms. But it might just as well have sought ideas for preventing Australia from backsliding into its bad old habits. Forget further economic reform -- the current challenge is to not go backwards.

The chief threat -- which Crikey has banged on about now for a long time -- is manufacturing protectionism, both of the modern kind, involving pumping money into local manufacturers who are otherwise uncompetitive, as we're doing with naval procurement, and of the traditional kind, via the punitive tariffs we're imposing on allegedly "dumped" steel.

Donald Trump's success on a platform of raging protectionism and repudiation of free trade is only going to make that much worse. Bill Shorten, who earlier this year flirted with open protectionism for what's left of our unviable steel manufacturing industry, has amped up his rhetoric about prioritising Australian jobs. "My party will heed the lessons of Detroit, Michigan, of Ohio and Pennsylvania," he said last week. "We will buy Australian, build Australian, make in Australia and employ Australians."