Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Australia’s barley producers are facing significant anti-dumping tariffs by China. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the government is “deeply concerned” at the "bombshell" news and is threatening to take the matter to the World Trade Organisation.

Australia couldn’t be responsible for dumping, could we? It’s an outrage that China would use dumping as an excuse to protect its own farmers. Well, maybe.

For decades, Australia has told itself it is a free trading nation that doesn’t believe in protectionism or hiding behind tariff barriers. The truth is we continued to cling to protectionism, and in fact despite cutting support to the automobile industry, we’ve become more protectionist in recent years.