The credibility of the Australian government's climate change research has been heavily criticised by its own watchdog. Ombudsman Phillipa Smith has found that the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) has left itself open to allegations of undue influence by the fossil fuel industry. The government based its position at the Kyoto conference on a model prepared by ABARE, dubbed MEGABARE, which concluded that Australia would be severely disadvantaged by measures to reduce emissions. The research was overseen by a steering committee whose members paid A$50,000 for the privilege of sitting on it. They came mostly from groups or companies with substantial fossil fuel interests. Environmental groups estimate that such fossil fuel interests provided 80% of the research funding. ABARE's Brian Fisher has since agreed that the A$50,000 fee charged for input into the modelling unfairly excluded environmental groups and therefore did not ensure a balance of views. The Australian Conservation Foundation's Anna Reynolds welcomed the finding. Speaking on national radio she said that in terms of international credibility, Australia's greenhouse policy is now on a par with the Chinese swimming team.
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