In 1896 Beatrice Webb reported that those individuals opposed to special labour laws designed to protect women employees had formed a powerful alliance. The alignment of forces making up this alliance was composed of employers, free market economists and the middle-class wing of the movement for women's emancipation. In this paper it is argued that a similar alliance is active presently in Australia. Like its 1890s counterpart, this modern Australian alliance is campaigning for the abolition of certain special laws that exist to defend women employees from excessive demands on the part of employers. The paper discusses the nature of this alliance and examines one of its more recent successes. It is concluded that industrial relations analysts have paid insufficient attention to the protective character of these laws and that this is an omission that must be remedied.