Senator Andrew Bragg has expressed his disappointment with the Australian Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s rejection of The Digital Assets (Market Regulation) Bill 2023. The committee’s decision has raised concerns about the pace at which the government is addressing cryptocurrency regulation in the country.
In a report that divided along party lines, the committee opted not to support Bragg’s proposed bill. Instead, they recommended that the government engage in further consultations with industry stakeholders to develop comprehensive and appropriate regulations for digital assets in Australia.
Bragg, who represents New South Wales, criticized the rejection, accusing the Labor government of stalling the regulation of cryptocurrencies. He argued that the government had effectively “put regulating crypto in the slow lane.”
The committee’s assessment of Bragg’s bill highlighted several issues, including a lack of detail and certainty in the proposed legislation. They also noted that the bill did not align with the government’s existing approach to cryptocurrency regulation and failed to harmonize with international regulatory frameworks. Additionally, concerns were raised about the potential for regulatory arbitrage and negative consequences for the cryptocurrency industry.
Despite the rejection of Bragg’s bill, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had previously introduced a token mapping consultation paper through the Treasury in February. This paper was expected to pave the way for a separate consultation paper outlining a licensing and custody framework for crypto asset service providers by mid-2023. However, this process has yet to materialize.
The delay in progressing cryptocurrency regulation has left the industry eagerly awaiting the Treasury’s consultation on crypto custody and licensing. Michael Bacina, Chair of Blockchain Australia and a Digital Assets Lawyer, emphasized the importance of building on the industry’s submissions that were part of the Senate Committee’s review of Bragg’s bill.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia initiated a pilot test to explore potential use cases for a central bank digital currency (CBDC). However, it was concluded last month that any decision regarding a CBDC in Australia is likely to be several years away, adding further uncertainty to the country’s cryptocurrency landscape.