Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg has told a local industry event that Australia’s digital asset plan to create cryptocurrency-related legislation is “coming” soon and could be enacted in 2022.
He also backed plans to run the sector on renewable energy as part of the government's yet-to- be-established goal of achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions.
Speaking at the virtual NFT Fest event supported by Blockchain Australia on Thursday, Bragg stated that the select Senate committee investigating the topic will publish its report by the end of October and that it will include regulatory recommendations that can be legislated over the next 12 months.
“The review is due to conclude in about three weeks from now and the promise that I made you, I will keep. We will give you a plan, and that plan will be designed to put Australia at the front end of the digital asset society and the world,” he said.
The crypto-friendly Senator hosted the Senate inquiry into “Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre,” in 2021, but emphasized on Thursday that now is the time to put solid frameworks in place as opposed to prolonging the process with further reviews.
While there is still a lot of work to do, Bragg hopes the plan will be adopted no matter which political party is elected in the next federal election due 2022:
“I think that you deserve more than just a series of recommendations for new inquiries, task forces and further review. So we will be making some hard recommendations. [...] We will want the major parties, including my party, to adopt these policies as part of their election manifestos.”
While Bragg didn’t outline the specifics, he stated that the plan will include recommendations for a “robust policy framework” focused on three objectives: consumer protection, investor promotion and market competition.
“Now, for those of you that say we don't want to have regulation. I would remind you that your industry reps and the vast bulk of the industry is asking for some regulation, so there will be some regulation,” he said.
The Senator also stated that he is “very conscious” about not wanting to stifle innovation in crypto via regulation that suits the “incumbent vested interests” who want to see the sector “destroyed by a regulation that was designed for a whole different purpose.”
Speaking on environmental concerns over crypto’s energy consumption — as well as the government’s ambitions to transition to a “net-zero economy” — Bragg stated that he wants to see the crypto sector operate using solely renewable energy:
“I’ll just put the simple fact that we are trying to get to net zero. We want to get there as soon as we can. I personally think it's highly, and strongly in our economic interests to transition to a net-zero economy. And in the area of digital assets using a lot of electricity, we want that to happen on a renewable basis.”
“So I think it's a unique opportunity for the industry to pull this, pull those two things together,” he added.