Handouts to small business and farmers pushed Australia's business welfare bill to new heights in 2017-18, with industry assistance surging $500 million, or 4%, according to the Productivity Commission's latest report. The total bill for industry handouts, tariffs and other forms of protectionism reached a net $12.3 billion -- all of it paid for by taxpayers, consumers and businesses.

The PC splits handouts into two broad types: tariffs and budgetary assistance (tax concessions and straight handouts). Mining scores $460 million in handouts, manufacturing nearly $1.5 billion (the biggest recipient is the petroleum, coal, chemicals and rubber products sub-sector), but the services sector did by far the best, hoovering up nearly $5 billion in handouts.