Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

Australia is rushing full tilt into a new era of protectionism that means less spending on government services, more poorly paid jobs and fewer opportunities for exporters. And there's a bipartisan consensus for it.

Yesterday Anthony Albanese unveiled a National Reconstruction Fund worth $15 billion to fund manufacturing projects via loans, co-investments and guarantees, with the intention of generating a return for taxpayers. Areas targeted would be food, renewable energy, medical supplies, transport equipment. It would, Albanese said, "harness the power of government purchasing to grow existing industries".

His argument was two-fold: that Australia needs to become more self-sufficient in manufacturing, and that too much investment flows into "real estate or is returned to investors as higher dividends".