The coal industry is one that has historically been characterised by marked fluctuations in demand and price. This has left both coal owners and their employees in an uncertain economic and industrial position. From an early stage, however, both employers and miners recognised the benefits of regulating production to the current demand in order to maintain industry profitability. This paper traces the various attempts to restrain market competition in Queensland between 1900 and the 1930s. Initially, from 1900 until 1910, coal owners and miners attempted to use collective bargaining to ‘take wages out of competition’, thus stabilising prices. While this strategy was partially successful, from 1910 until the early 1930s state regulation of industrial relations was used to reinforce this negotiated framework. With the onset of the Depression, however, industrial relations regulation proved insufficient. Instead, the employers sought, and achieved, state regulation of production and distribution. Rather than undermining the position of the owners, such regulation acted to maintain the position of private enterprise within the industry.