Australian manufacturing
Deputy Reserve Bank governor Guy Debelle. (Image: AAP/David Kapernick)

There's a peculiar economic belief in Australia that is quite unrelated to partisanship or political ideology. It may reflect something more cultural than political, but it crops up right across the spectrum, from both the cultural and industrial left all the way over to the far right. It's the belief that manufacturing jobs hold some special status in an economy, that they're somehow more real, and thus more deserving of support and protection, than other jobs.

"Making things" seems to exercise some irrational hold on a variety of different minds. For example, on Wednesday, veteran conservative business commentator Robert Gottliebsen fretted that "we need to face the fact that, like the US, we decided to abandon our manufacturing base and overcame the standard of living implications of that decision by heavy bank borrowing to fund a housing boom".