Transcripts

TRANSCRIPT - Interview with Tom Connell on Sky News – NewsDay

Tom Connell

Joining me live now is Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, who's taken a keen interest in cryptocurrency, I think it's fair to say. This latest development and collapse,you've looked a lot into cryptocurrency, do you have much sympathy for Australian investors who will lose money? Or is it a case of well, it was always buyer beware?

Senator Bragg

Good morning, Tom. Last October I led a Senate Inquiry which recommended significant changes, so that cryptocurrency would be regulated, in order to protect consumers. So, you'd see the same sort of protections that you might see in a normal financial market. Unfortunately, the Government since it came in, in May,has not done much at all. And Stephen Jones, who is the Minister, has been focused on working through the list of grievances from his best friends at the super funds and the unions. So unfortunately, we have really stalled here on our quest to regulate cryptocurrency, which is essential if we are going to protect consumers who are really exposed to a pretty wild west situation.

Tom Connell

One of the basic changes is Australian based operators would need to have money,you know liquidity for deposits so similar to a bank, I suppose, and a separate account where people's deposits are held, and so they're not part of, or they don't just lose their money the second the company goes bust. It sounds reasonable in theory, would it mean that players just wouldn't actually base themselves out of Australia and just base themselves overseas if we were regulating like that?

Senator Bragg

There's two sides of the coin. The first side of the coin is consumer protection, the other side is investment promotion. The more regulation you have onshore, the more likely you are to attract the serious investors and the markets and the custody providers that are frankly very nimble. So, we already know that two Australian crypto markets have sought licences in Singapore and the UK. So,we're losing capital, and we're losing brands offshore, and so the opportunity for us to regulate crypto really has those economic benefits as well as just protecting consumers. So, we have to get on with it and in Senate Estimates last week, it was very clear that Labor has no real plan to address our report from October last year.

Tom Connell

Well,you can say we did a report in October last year, you're also in Government,the Liberal Party that is, since 2013, crypto was alive and well and flourishing. I mean, you can say Stephen Jones has dropped the ball, it’s November, they came into power in May. What about some responsibility on the Coalition side? Were you asleep at the wheel too?

Senator Bragg

No,I agree with that, and I think certainly after the report was handed down in October, the then Treasurer announced that that would become our policy, and then in March this year, the Treasury released a paper on how this would all be legislated and how the concepts would be put into law and all that's been jumped. So it wasn't as if the Liberal Party had done nothing here. We've done more to develop a serious policy than most other comparable countries on cryptocurrency, but this Government has called it either all a scam or has decided it wasn't a priority for it.

Tom Connell

Well,you developed, but didn't pass is the key element, so you can argue you have something ready to go and it's fair enough to ask of Labor, ‘what are you going to do on that?’ We'll put questions to them, but it's worth noting there was plenty of time to get it passed anyway. We'll leave that as it were. China, what about this meeting between Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping? Why do you think this happened now, and not when Scott Morrison was Prime Minister?

Senator Bragg

Well,I think it's good that it's happened, and for a long time my view has been that we need to have a reset in the relationship. It's a very important relationship for Australia. No doubt there's been some difficult times in the past, but perhaps the change of Government has made it easier for this particular meeting to happen. But having said that, I mean, the Labor Party in Opposition was always wanting to stay with us on the positions that we took in relation to China, and some of those positions were not the easiest things to do.

Tom Connell

And what's crucial here is Labor hasn't backed down on the so-called list of 14 grievances. So, whatever happens from here is this truly a bipartisan moment with China and will continue to be so?

Senator Bragg

I think it is, and it's a positive development. We want to have a normal relationship with China. We don't have to agree with them on everything. But the idea that we wouldn't have any ministerial level engagement, I think really was a bad state of affairs for the country, and I'm pleased this meeting has been possible. I hope that it is able to be maintained over the long term.

Tom Connell

Yeah,and let's hope it means something, on tariffs, for example, some of our primary producers would hope so. What about the examining why China, I mean, it's the one that's changed its mind on this, Australia was always open to this meeting and now China's made it happen. Is this a possible positive out of Ukraine? The incredible result from the Ukrainians and perhaps the surprising strength of resolve from the West has meant that China is now rethinking how much it can get through either outright force or just aggression and bluff and threats,perhaps.

Senator Bragg

Look,I'm not going to try and second guess why exactly this has happened right now,but it is clear that we have a very strong economic relationship with China. Our two-way trade is strong, and I think it's in China's interest as well to have a relationship with Australia. So, I think it's a positive development today. I also note that Peter Dutton has met with the Ambassador only in the last ten days, and we look forward to playing our part in ensuring that we have a normal relationship with China. You don't need to be best friends in order to have diplomatic relations.

Tom Connell

It might not be warmth, but a little bit less frosty is what it looks like right now. We'll see what it actually means. Andrew Bragg, thank you for your time.

Senator Bragg

Thanks Tom.

 

[ENDS]

Media Contact: 

David Nouri - 0401 392 624

 

 

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