Labor senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal senator Jane Hume claim the country’s central bank need to be more supportive of bitcoin and has to make it an official currency. Otherwise, they said, Australia will eventually lag behind other countries.
Dastyari represents New South Wales, Australia’s largest State, while Hume represents Victoria, the most densely-populated and second most populous state in the country.
As Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday, without changing the state of bitcoin regulation, Australia’s financial services industry, which is estimated at $145 billion a year, risks its future competitiveness.
Hume and Dastyari have also established a group, named Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain, in order to promote the initiative. The senators have proposed the Reserve Bank of Australia to develop its own digital currency.
According to Dastyari, bitcoin holds huge potential and has already turned into a major financial player. He told that when he first spoke about bitcoin in the Senate, one of his colleagues came to him and asked ‘I don’t get what the issue is, don’t they just melt all the coin bits they don’t use?”.
“This will be a revolutionary leap for the Reserve Bank and for Australian financial institutions, what we want to do here in Parliament is to create the political environment to allow that leap [for an Australian bitcoin blockchain] to occur,” Dastyari said.
“The question for Australia is are we going to follow or are we going to lead. We need to find a bipartisan way of doing this,” he added. “We can’t compete with our Asian neighbours when it comes to producing cheap goods and services anymore. We can compete when it comes to financial services but that is going to mean big, bold decisions.”
Senator Hume, meantime, said the creation of blockchain was the next major frontier in the technological revolution. “The opportunities for government, academia, and the private sector are enormous,” she said in Parliament on Tuesday.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan also supports the need to revise bitcoin regulation and recognize it as an official currency. In 2015, he contacted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) asking to investigate whether the banks were involved in anti-competitive conduct after they closed accounts of 30 local bitcoin operators. In 2016, however, the ACCC cleared banks of any wrongdoing.
In May, the government removed double taxation on bitcoin, looking to drive the growth of bitcoin businesses and facilitating the adoption of digital currency in the country. Besides, earlier this year it formed an internal working group to consider the implications of blockchain technology.