Interview with Laura Jayes for AM Agenda on Sky News, 4 November 2021.
Topics: Cryptocurrency, foreign relations
Laura Jayes: Well, the Commonwealth Bank will allow its customers to buy and sell cryptocurrency through its app. It's a first for Australia's big four banks. Does it bring cryptocurrency closer to the mainstream? Joining me live now is Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, somewhat of an expert in this area. Andrew Bragg, we've talked long and hard about cryptocurrency once thought to be the domain of tech heads and criminals. You've certainly put that to bed now. This is a big move from the Commonwealth Bank. Why?
Senator Bragg: Well, I think you're right that many people in the establishment in Canberra and in business have had the view that cryptocurrency is the domain of drug dealers and loan sharks, and what not. But the reality is that it has great agency and can create great opportunities for people to frankly get away from banks, which I think, frankly, have too much control over people's lives over the long term when you think about things like mortgages. So I think what you're saying is a mainstreaming moment for cryptocurrency.
Laura Jayes: Yeak, okay, so what do you mean by that? A mainstreaming moment because the banks moving is one thing. But don't governments have to move as well with regulation?
Senator Bragg: Well, this is a good question, Laura. We did release a report into cryptocurrency two weeks ago, and that is an agenda for Canberra to put in place a regulatory structure to protect consumers, but also to drive more investment into cryptocurrency in Australia. So I'm pleased to see the banks move. I mean, one of the major issues has been the banks, what's called 'debanking' people, who use cryptocurrency just because they're in cryptocurrency. And so I imagine that with the banks having gone into cryptocurrency, it will be very hard for them to debank people who are in that same industry now.
Laura Jayes: Yeah, but do you want to see the big four get more into cryptocurrency or at least facilitate it? Because I guess with those traditional structures, there can be less cowboy activity if you like.
Senator Bragg: Well, one in five Australians has cryptocurrency and that's heavily skewed towards younger people. Younger people want to get away from banks that don't want to have their lives run by banks. They want to be able to engage in peer to peer transactions, which cryptocurrency provides the capacity to do. So I just want the Australian economy to be a modern, dynamic economy. I don't want it to be looking backwards. So if banks are moving into this space, I think that's a good thing. But the key point here is that Canberra needs to put in place a proper regulatory structure, which we've recently recommended to the Treasurer.
Laura Jayes: Well, you're part of the government. So are you getting any headway with that?
Senator Bragg: I think there's a lot of interest in this. And my hope is we can adopt some of the Senate reports recommendations is Liberal Party policy. And my expectation is if we return to the election that we could put in place most of the reforms within twelve months, which is ambitious. But I think unless we move quickly here, we will risk losing jobs to Singapore in the UK.
Laura Jayes: Yeah, very interesting. Indeed. Talking about Singapore in the UK, it's the French that's on the Prime Minister's mind at the moment. Are we going to get over this?
Senator Bragg: Well, I think we need to move on. And obviously there have been strong claims made by the French, and those have been refuted. So I'm hoping that's going to be the end of it.
Laura Jayes: What do you think about the principle of leaking text messages?
Senator Bragg: Look I imagine it's a last resort thing you do. And I think that given the strength of the claims that were made publicly, if there is primary evidence to show that those are not true, then I think you need to provide that information.
Laura Jayes: Okay. Andrew Bragg, good to talk to you. Thanks so much.
[[END OF INTERVIEW]]