Kevin Rudd cranked up his protectionist pitch at a rally of shipbuilders yesterday, calling himself an "economic nationalist".
The Prime Minister, who came to power in 2007 declaring himself an "economic conservative", was in Melbourne spruiking the benefits of Labor's plan to build navy ships in Australia.
"I am at my heart of hearts an Australian economic nationalist who believes we need manufacturing for the future, and that means your skills, your talents, your abilities and the ships that you proudly build for Australia," Mr Rudd said.
Mr Rudd's self description came after he revealed his discomfort at foreign investment in agricultural land. He used Wednesday's debate with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to express his preference for foreign investors to enter joint ventures and co-operatives rather than buying farms outright, echoing fears of many rural communities.
But Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, who this week announced a register of foreign-owned agricultural land would be set up, yesterday undermined the PM's musings.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the Government had no plans to change the rules to favour joint ventures with local businesses.
"Politics is not just about legislation, it's about leadership and sending the right messages, including messages to the world," he told ABC radio.
"The important message . . . is to say, 'Don't worry about foreign investment, we're going to produce a register which will allow you to monitor it, and to demonstrate to you how low it is'."