The head of the Productivity Commission has accused policymakers of "reaching for the industry assistance jar at the first sniff of cannon fire in President Trump’s trade war", as the Commission adds national security spending in its annual hitlist of policy failures.

In a little-reported speech on Tuesday, ahead of today's release of the Commission's annual Trade and Assistance Review, chairman Peter Harris, who finishes his term later this year, renewed his criticism of the protectionist strain in Australia's politicians. Trump's steel and aluminium tariffs, Harris noted, meant