Two Australian senators have pushed for the Reserve Bank of Australia to embrace bitcoin and make it an official currency. Without it, the country risks its financial competitiveness and being left behind, they said.
Senators Call for Bitcoin to Be Official Currency
Labor senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal senator Jane Hume have pushed for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to “embrace bitcoins as an official form of currency,” the Sydney Morning Heraldreported on Tuesday. Dastyari represents Australia’s largest State, New South Wales. Hume represents Victoria, the most densely-populated and second most populous state.
Without embracing bitcoin, Australia risks the future competitiveness its financial services industry worth $145 billion a year, the publication detailed, and quoted Dastyari saying:
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 to occur.
When he first talked about bitcoin in the Senate, he recalled that one of his colleagues said to him, “I don’t get what the issue is, don’t they just melt all the coin bits they don’t use?” the publication detailed.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan also publicly backed bitcoin. In September 2015, he asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate whether bitcoin companies were treated unfairly after major banks closed accounts of 30 such companies. However, in 2016, the ACCC cleared banks of any wrongdoing in this matter.
In 2014, he and Dastyari co-authored an article highlighting the attractiveness of the cryptocurrency. “The emergence of bitcoins and other forms of digital currency could revolutionise money markets,” they wrote. “If competition is so good in markets for products, why shouldn’t we allow competition in markets for currency too – why should governments have a monopoly?”
Australia Risks Getting Left Behind
Dastyari has been a major proponent of treating bitcoin as a regular currency since before the government removed its double taxation. He proposed back in 2015 that Australia could “establish itself as a global leader at the forefront of change in global attitudes towards digital currencies, and that the country shouldn’t risk being left behind by failing to investigate all the opportunities,” Afr reported at the time. He reiterated this belief again on Tuesday, adding that:
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.
“We can’t compete with our Asian neighbours when it comes to producing cheap goods and services anymore,” he admitted but added that, “we can compete when it comes to financial services but that is going to mean big, bold decisions.”
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Images courtesy of The Age, Twitter, Sydney Morning Herald, Starts at 60