Carbon price calculator revealed

By Julian Bajkowski

Independent economic researchers who debunked claims that the majority of Australian households would be financially worse off under a price on carbon have revealed they called upon the same heavy duty data mining software more commonly used by big banks, defence and revenue agencies to get their numbers straight.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) at the University of Canberra has revealed itself to be a long term client of privately held US analytics company SAS.

The move to reference SAS as an analytics software provider is significant because it effectively ups the ante against critics of NATSEM’s work by putting them on notice that it uses the same heavyweight data tools as frontline government agencies and major financial institutions.

The unpublicised testimonial appears on a page of the software maker’s Australian web page – and is a minor coup given the notorious non-disclosure demands of many its government and private customers who use SAS for highly sensitive tasks like predicting fraud, assessing intelligence product and calculating the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.

The revelation comes as the political heat over the impact of the carbon tax climbs as the government seeks to exploit a lesser financial impact on households than that publicised by the Opposition.

"The findings demonstrated that the new carbon price, in tandem with the compensation scheme, actually had a positive impact on the majority of household costs," NATSEM Principal Research Fellow, Ben Phillips says in the document.

"While the compensation package leaves most households no worse off, the carbon price offers an incentive to shift investment and consumption away from high-pollution goods and services."

The document says that modelling the impact of carbon pricing was “not a simple undertaking” and “applied predicted price impacts to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Household Expenditure Survey, which provides expenditure information for more than 600 household items.”

Notably, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is another known user of SAS’s products.

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