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The Neoliberal State, Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining in Australia



For nearly 12 years from 1996, the Australian government pursued a neoliberal industrial relations agenda, seeking to break with structures based on collective bargaining and trade unions. In the name of choice and deregulation, this agenda involved unique levels of state intervention and prescription — and anti-unionism. In the last round of legislative change, the 2005 laws badged as Work Choices, the government overreached itself and in 2007 was defeated in a general election. As in the UK after Thatcher, the extent to which collective bargaining can be restored and trade unions regain a voice is problematical.