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News News Leading conservative economist says AWAs cannot exist
A leading conservative economist and labour market reformer has described the federal government's AWAs as "dead".

News Limited newspapers report Mark Wooden, from the Melbourne Institute, said the government's fairness test on AWAs has prevented employers cutting labour costs.

Mr Wooden is one of a number of prominent economists who have challenged Prime Minister John Howard's claim that Labor wants to return the workforce to a centralised system.

"The advantage of AWAs evaporated with the fairness test," Mr Wooden told the newspaper.

"AWAs are dead - he (the PM) can say what he likes. You'll still get companies like Rio Tinto going for AWAs, but that will be for reasons other than cutting labour costs. They're using them to get rid of unions."

Mr Howard introduced AWAs in his first group of workplace laws in 1997 with a "no disadvantage test" that claimed workers could not be worse off than under minimum awards.

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