In terms of employer matters, the year 2008 may be best characterized as one dominated by change, challenge and Canberra, as the political landscape was transformed, industrial relations legislation was rewritten and global capitalism went into financial meltdown. The new political and economic environment seemed to demand a greater emphasis on consultation, efforts at cooperation and, dare I say it, in some cases even ‘consensus’. Nevertheless, employers were nonetheless active in pursuing their own objectives, with the main employer associations preoccupied for most of 2008 lobbying for changes and amendments to the form and substance of Labor’s new industrial relations regime, Forward with Fairness. Importantly, the new industrial and legal landscape suggested that the changed status of the ‘parties’ vis-a-vis awards, is likely to lead to increased competition for relevance among employer associations, leading to a series of amalgamations and rationalization, much as occurred with unions in the 1990s.
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