Controversial Australian Ex-Minister Enters Blockchain Insurance Space

Australia’s former Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has become chairman of the advisory board for an insurance-focused blockchain firm.

Stephen Conroy — an Australian Labor Party Senate member from 1996–2016 — has joined the Melbourne-based blockchain firm Day By Day, according to a Dec. 18 report from ZDNet.

Day By Day is focused on the creation of a blockchain-based asset registry management platform intended to innovate insurance inventories and expedite claims in the industry.

Commenting on his new role, Conroy said that “problems of under-insurance and fraudulent claims” remain significant issues for both clients and insurers. He said he believes a blockchain-based asset registry will prove to be “a win-win” for both individuals and the industry.

A divisive career

During his time as communications minister, Conroy had attempted to introduce controversial legislation for mandatory internet filtering back in 2009. 

Intended as a clampdown on online child pornography, the policy would have compelled all ISPs to block any material hosted on overseas servers that had been deemed unacceptable by the Australian Classification Board. It was ultimately withdrawn following a severe backlash by critics of internet censorship. 

Conroy eventually distanced himself from the policy after the Board’s blacklist was found to include a heterogeneous mix of apparently innocuous sites. Yet his advocacy of the legislation — among other unpopular policy initiatives — led to his crowning as "Internet villain of the year" at the 11th annual Internet industry awards in the United Kingdom in 2009. 

After resigning from the Senate in 2016, Conroy took on a role as head of Responsible Wagering Australia, a lobbying group for the Australian-licensed online gambling industry.

Crypto-related developments in Australian politics

Speaking at a counter-terrorism conference in Melbourne this November, Australia’s Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton has warned that terrorists are exploiting cryptocurrencies to “fund their deadly missions.” 

The country’s Treasury has broadly struck a more restrained tone, pointing to the scant evidence that cryptocurrency is being used to facilitate black economy activities in Australia.