Meet Australia's 'parliamentary friends of blockchain'

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Meet Australia's 'parliamentary friends of blockchain'

Will champion cause of Bitcoin tech.

Two Australian senators have launched a bipartisan group intended to champion the use of blockchain technology within both government and private industry.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal senator Jane Hume are co-convenors of the 'Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain' group.

The pair argue the opportunities with blockchain for government, academia, and the private sector are "enormous".

They say Australia risks being left behind on the global stage if it does not start seriously looking at the potential for blockchain and its associated digital currency, Bitcoin.

The senators will officially launch the group at an event in Parliament House on Tuesday night.

Locally, the Australian Securities Exchange is one of the most advanced entities in its dealings with blockchain, having prototyped an "industrial strength" blockchain-based solution for the local equity market.

But recent research by Data61 found distributed ledger or blockchain technology has a long way to go before widespread adoption in Australia.

While it found the technology promised a number of benefits for government and the private sector, there were still many unanswered questions about how both public and private blockchains would work, and how they would satisfy regulatory requirements.

Data61 found there was no current clear path towards widespread adoption of blockchain, and said further trials and research was needed to show that distributed ledger technology would produce desired results.

Until the May federal budget, the government considered Bitcoin an 'intangible property' for GST purposes, meaning Bitcoin enthusiasts were charged GST twice when transacting with the digital currency.

It is now treated as a normal currency for GST purposes.

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