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Crypto Bill Rejection: Bragg Cites Risks to Australian Investors

Senator Andrew Bragg, the author of the Crypto Bill, has raised concerns that the rejection of the bill by the Australian parliament could expose investors to unregulated markets, potentially leading to a flow of investments out of the country.

An article on the rejection of the Bill can be found here.

The Committee’s chair, Senator Jess Walsh of the Labor Party, conveyed in a report that the bill should not be approved because it does not align with the existing regulatory framework. This misalignment raises legitimate concerns about potential regulatory arbitrage and detrimental effects on the industry.

Bragg expressed his disagreement with the committee’s stance in email correspondence with Cointelegraph, arguing that their recommendation would expose consumers to an unregulated market and drive investment away from the country.

“The benefits of digital asset regulations are twofold: They protect consumers and promote market investment and activity. This was why these regulations were placed on the legislative agenda by the former Liberal government in October 2021.”

Senator Bragg interpreted the rejection of his bill as primarily influenced by political partisanship, pointing to the significant presence of Labor Party members within the Senate Committee. He strongly criticized their choice to oppose his preliminary bill, alleging that it has hindered the progress of digital asset regulations in Australia.

“Australia would have a regulated digital assets market. Instead, it is close to the end of 2023, and the government has no plan to implement these regulations,” Bragg stated.

Despite Bragg attributing the rejection to partisan politics, Liam Hennessey, a partner at the international law firm Clyde & Co., shared a different perspective with Cointelegraph. Hennessey believed that the rejection was primarily related to a distinct regulatory procedure, namely the Treasury’s “token mapping” consultation paper.

Hennessey remarked that the suggested rejection of Bragg’s preliminary bill did not necessarily have a positive or negative impact on cryptocurrency regulation in Australia.

“There’s no doubt that Senator Bragg’s bill and the consideration and industry feedback it has received will be considered. The Senate is congested with legislation more broadly at present, so I do not think the delay is something that can be read into too much.”

“I think [Bragg’s] bill, and the work that went into it, will be valuable in informing the government’s approach,” Hennessey concluded.

In August of the previous year, the Labor government unveiled its “token mapping” initiative, enlisting the Treasury to examine how crypto assets and associated services should be subject to regulation. This exercise was intended to shape future regulatory decisions.

On February 3, the Treasury issued a public consultation paper as a foundational step in the government’s plan to oversee the digital asset market. However, there has been limited government discourse on digital assets and their broader regulatory approach since then.

Senator Bragg introduced the Digital Assets (Market Regulation) Bill 2023 in March, with the goal of safeguarding consumers and promoting investment. The bill presents guidelines for regulating stablecoins, licensing exchanges, and establishing custody requirements. It is currently under Senate review and is anticipated to undergo a vote during the upcoming session.

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