A pair of Australian senators are pushing for more official recognition of digital currencies and blockchain technology. They’ll kick off their campaign with an event this evening at the Australian federal parliament in Canberra.
Senators Jane Hume and Sam Dastyari have formed the non-partisan “Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain” group. From the main rival center-right and center-left teams respectively, they say the initiative is to keep Australia’s financial services industry competitive.
Australia can’t compete with China and other Asian neighbors in cheap goods and services these days, Dastyari said. Financial services is one area the country can remain competitive if it makes “big, bold decisions”.
A report in Australia’s Fairfax newspapers says the senators will “call on the Reserve Bank to embrace bitcoins as an official form of currency”. However actual comments about the new group avoid the word “bitcoin”, and appear instead to urge the central bank to create its own blockchain-based currency.
Lobby group the Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association (ADCCA) appears to also be behind the move. Chairman Ron Tucker referred to blockchain currencies as “an auditor’s dream because you’ll be able to see any transactions that move on it”.
Adam Poulton, CEO of local bitcoin wages startup Get Paid in Bitcoin, said news of the initiative was a surprise. He suggested a few more names to the invitation list to boost representation from the Bitcoin-specific community, and praised senator Dastyari’s past Bitcoin support.
“He (Dastyari) has been really supportive of Bitcoin for a while now — I think this is a way for him to open up a dialog, maybe expedite regulation, etc.”
Senators Have Been Bitcoin-Friendly in the Past
In October 2014, the Australian Senate held its initial inquiry into Bitcoin specifically, inviting local community figures including Poulton to testify. It produced a report recommending changes to the way bitcoin transactions are taxed — which finally happened this year.
Senator Dastyari was one of the two senators who chaired those sessions. The other, conservative Matthew Canavan, made headlines with offhand criticisms of fractional reserve banking during the hearings. Both have remained supportive of digital currencies in the years since the hearings.
ADCCA has also worked closely with members of parliament over the years, inviting the community for other similar meet-and-greet sessions. It hopes to maintaining a constructive dialog which would, in turn, produce more permissive regulation.
ADCCA has also created an official Code of Conduct for its blockchain industry members, and has also drafted accounting standards for blockchain companies.
What do you think of Australia’s initiative? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Pixabay, Adam Poulton