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Australia Government Change Would See Labor Push Blockchain

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A spokesman from Australia’s Labor Opposition party has stated that it will push blockchain technology if in government, despite current views that tech is overhyped.

Currently, under a Liberal Government The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) whose aim is to deliver world-leading digital services for the benefit of all Australians, feels that the technology needs more research before it can be described as the real deal.

The current Shadow Minister for Human Services and the Digital Economy, Ed Husic, disagrees with the incumbent government’s stance over blockchain technology and is disappointed after the DTA was given AUD 700,000 to investigate blockchain as part of the 2018-19 Budget.

The government’s findings through DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander was that “for every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology — alternate databases, secure connections, standardized API engagement”.

Husic responded during the launch of a blockchain paper from the Australian Computer Society (ACS), saying that some of the anti-blockchain reports were disappointing: “There’s this line that’s starting to creep out into the public space more and more about is blockchain over-hyped.”

He went on to compare the situation regarding the adoption of blockchain to the early days of the internet when people asked, “Do we really need a webpage? Do we really need this?”. He said, “We can just rely on what we’ve been doing at the moment… we don’t need to use this technology called the internet and other people will do it first. Then we saw other people do things first and get the advantage… and then we had to play catch-up.”

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Data 61 is continuing to examine blockchains capability within government and private use, claiming that Australia has the potential to lead the world in further developing the technology. Data61 CEO Adrian Turner commented:

“We’ve got high-performance computing capabilities, strong cryptography capability, strong protocol development experience — for example, wireless — we’ve got all the ingredients to actually smash it globally if we can get focused.”

 

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Aussie Govt Considers Blockchain for Services, Welfare Payments

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to research blockchain, and how it could be used to improve government services, including welfare payments.

The Australian government has granted the agency a budget of AUD 700,000 (USD 530,000) in order to carry out an investigation into DLT, according to ITNews.

“The Prime Minister, in fact, wrote to our minister and asked us to have a look at blockchain, which evolved into this particular piece of work,” DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander said.

The move is not entirely surprising given recent interest among financial instructions in the country, most significantly, the Australian Securities Exchange’s (ASX) recent plans to replace its current clearing and settlement system with a DLT model within the next two years.

“ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission) [was] looking at blockchain, immigration – now home affairs – was looking at blockchain and considering it, and more agencies were talking about it,” Alexander said, adding, “Lots of vendors were coming to government and talking about blockchain.”

The move is one of many focused on how the government can best leverage blockchain’s advantages, including another DTA announcement this week that the agency plans to look into how the technology can be used for making social security welfare payments to citizens.

The new plan is focused on payments by Centrelink, reports CCN. The DTA feels that there are significant advantages of delivering social security welfare to citizens over a blockchain. Centrelink, part of the Department of Health Services (DHS), is responsible for a range of payments, particularly those relating to unemployment, pensions, and health. DTA Chief executive Randall Brugeaud stated:

“Our plan is to look for use cases across the Commonwealth with an initial focus on the welfare payment delivery system, then working with our digital service standard, we’ll conduct user research a view of having a prototype by the end of the next financial years.”

Brugeaud added that the potential of blockchain to securely record transactions would be investigated, drawing on the experience of other public and private sector organizations.

As blockchain is increasingly being developed and employed in new sectors across the country, cryptocurrency is also increasing in popularity. While Australia may not be the largest market for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, it is one that is quickly growing. It is currently ranked the 13th in the world for Bitcoin trading volume.

 

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