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Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) is an Australian government economic research agency. ABARE is is a controversial organisation because the majority of its funding comes from large companies and industry groups. ABARE's website notes that "Over half of ABARE's external revenue is derived from commercial consulting work". [1]. This has lead many commentators to question the objectivity of ABARE's research [2].

Case Studies

ABARE & Climate Change

ABARE has long been an opponent of strong action by Australia to reduce its greenhouse emissions. According to Bernard Keane, writing in Crikey.com.au, "Outright greenhouse denialism was never ABARE’s method – although, as late as October 2006, ABARE staff appearing before (Senate) Estimates were declining to accept that climate change was real. Instead, under (Brian) Fisher, ABARE’s primary method was to systematically produce modelling demonstrating the massive costs to Australia of any action to mitigate carbon emissions. . . . ABARE’s real trick was to overstate even the costs yielded by its modelling. Its favourite method was to calculate either the cumulative total reduction in GDP over the course of several decades if action was taken to ameliorate carbon emissions, or calculate the present value of reductions in per capita GDP if such actions were taken. These entirely meaningless figures could then be dressed up as a sort of massive impost on Australians for addressing climate change. John Quiggin nailed ABARE for this trick in 1996 [3] but it didn’t stop them repeating it again, and again and again." [4]

ABARE & Genetic Modification (GM)

ABARE has been accused of being an uncritical promoter of GM technology, without proper consideration of the impacts of GM. According to Bernard Keane, writing in Crikey.com.au, "In early May (2008), in a report entitled "Economic impact of GM Crops in Australia", ABARE claimed that the benefit of Australia adopting GM canola, wheat, soybean, maize and rice would be approximately $8.5b. . . . But there’s a couple of problems with ABARE’s argument. Most inconveniently, GM wheat and rice aren’t even available yet. And, under questioning by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert in (Senate) Estimates, some of the assumptions employed by the report were revealed by ABARE to be rather on the heroic side. In particular, the report was based on assuming every single farmer in the country immediately switched – right now, in 2008 – to GM crops. Including non-existent GM wheat and rice. When challenged, ABARE admitted that the report was entirely hypothetical. However, that didn’t stop Philip Glyde from declaring in a press release that 'delaying GM uptake means we are forgoing significant economic benefits for regional Australia.'" [5]

Funding

ABARE does not publish a current list of business and industry groups which fund its research, but some funders of ABARE's research have been publicly acknowledged.

For instance, business groups providing funding for ABARE's modelling on the economic impacts of the Kyoto Protocol have included:

(Source: [6])

Contact details

Edmund Barton Building, Core 6
Corner of Broughton and Macquarie Street, Barton
Canberra, Australia
Phone: 02 6272 2000
Fax: 02 6272 2001
Web: http://www.abareconomics.com

Postal Address
GPO Box 1563,
Canberra 2601 Australia

External Resources