This article presents results from a recent leximetric study as to how the ‘protective strength’ of Australian labour law has changed over the past forty years, in comparison to five other countries. The study is part of an international project that is testing certain theories concerning the effect of a country’s ‘legal origins’ on its regulatory systems. Contrary to what many might expect, our results suggest that Australian labour law has been relatively stable over the period, and that the most significant changes occurred under the Keating Government in 1993, rather than under the more recent Work Choices or Fair Work reforms. The results also provide weak support at best for any argument that the ‘regulatory style’ of Australian labour law is dictated by the country’s common law heritage.

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