Senators Bragg and Lummis discuss US-Australia cooperation on crypto laws

Australian Senator Andrew Bragg has met with US Senator Cynthia Lummis to discuss possible cooperation on cryptocurrency regulation between the two countries.

Senator Bragg is a crypto-friendly politician from the ruling Liberal Party (a conservative centre-right party), which was one of the driving forces behind a proposed forward-looking regulatory regime in Australia.

Last year he chaired the Senate Committee on Australia as a Technology and Finance Center (ATFC), which presented 12 major regulatory proposals relating to taxation, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and business licensing. Two months later, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg outlined his intention to begin implementing at least six of the proposals by mid-2022.

Since then, the proposals have been refined and packaged into the Digital Services Act, but implementation is up in the air. With the general election set to take place next month, it is unclear whether the law will pass if the opposition Labor Party is elected, as they are yet to take a concrete stance on the crypto sector.

Bragg spoke to Lummis — a well-known crypto advocate and Bitcoin (BTC) hodler — via video call this week, and told Cointelegraph that the discussion primarily focused on “opportunities for regulatory equivalents.”

While he didn’t want to go into detail, Bragg stressed the importance of coordinating with the US on as many issues as possible given the historic partnership between the two nations:

“I see this as an area of ​​economic growth, as a security goal, because we have a unique relationship with the United States that is cultural, economic and military. So we want to be as close as possible to our friends in the United States on these issues.”

He also suggested that both administrations seek to set global standards for crypto regulation, noting that “President Biden’s executive order is quite similar to what Treasurer Frydenberg released last December.”

“[If] Two big, sophisticated financial economies like the United States and Australia are coming together, which could help push standards in other parts of the world,” he said.

In terms of collaboration, or at least regulatory equivalency, Bragg noted that “it looks like they’ve been able to get different types of products to market faster. So we’ll see what lessons we might be able to take away from there.”

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One area that may differ is the two nations’ approach to launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC), with Bragg noting that the US seems more receptive to the idea. Australia’s Reserve Bank has said there’s no compelling need for it, due in part to the country’s instant digital payments network, and Bragg stressed he’s “very cautious” at this stage.

“I think I’m probably more aware of the issues and risks of going there. So we just have to finish the Ministry of Finance’s report on this subject. I hope this can happen soon after the election.”

When asked if Labor’s election would derail Bragg’s crypto reform efforts over the past two years, the senator frankly stated he had no idea.

“I mean you need to talk to Labor about this. But I mean they don’t have politics. So yeah, I certainly hope not, but I mean, they don’t have a policy,” he said.

Bragg also addressed the Accounting Business Expo in Sydney yesterday when he outlined his political parties’ intention to provide “good regulation” rather than stifling regulation.

“Regulation that creates certainty while inviting the opportunity for more innovation, including innovation that we cannot foresee. A regulation that protects the interests of consumers and investors on an equal footing – and at the same time allows flexibility, inventiveness and the willingness to experiment”.

“Regulation that provides a safety net when the market fails but holds individuals accountable for the consequences of their actions,” he added.