Employers and their associations found themselves in a more complex environment largely of their own making. Desired change through the federal system appeared too incremental yet repeated association calls for a hardening of the Workplace Relations regime fell foul of the Senate. At state level, policy backlashes have all but removed neo-liberal gains of the last decade. Developments in the building industry present an anti-union federal government, associations and adversarial companies with their best chance to extend the effects of the 1996 Act. In general, associations indulge in a neo-liberal form of rentier policy pleading while unions continue to make gains in unlikely circumstances.