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Australian 2018-19 National Budget Highlights Blockchain Alongside Global Digitization




The Australian government has released its annual budget report for 2018-19. Funds have been earmarked for blockchain research alongside broader digital initiatives.

The treasurer and the minister of finance for the Commonwealth of Australia handed down the island nation's national budget for 2018-19 yesterday, May 8.

Four papers were released pertaining to budgetary concerns alongside a transcript of the treasurer's related speech, corresponding ministerial statements, and other associated documentation.    

Budget Paper No. 1, titled Budget Strategy and Outlook, provides supplementary information pertaining to the Treasurer's speech. No. 2, Budget Measures, ensures that the broader series of Budget Papers is comprehensive in its information for all government decisions involving revenue or expense changes. No.3, Federal Financial Relations, presents an overview of the commonwealth's financial relations with state and territorial governments in Australia. No. 4, Agency Resourcing, sets out departmental funding for various agencies and administrations, providing a "full allocation of resources across government."

While all four papers deal at length with digital aspects and implications of Australia's economy papers, the second and fourth specifically mention blockchain technology.

Budget Measures notes, "The Government will provide $0.7 million [AUD] in 2018-19 for the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services."

Agency Resourcing states, "This will build on the work of Data61, the Australian Security and Investments Commission Digital Finance Advisory Committee and the Treasurer's FinTech Advisory Group, to explore the use of innovative technology to minimise transaction costs, streamline processes and improve government services."   

The DTA will use the earmarked $700,000 AUD to investigate blockchain applications in two parts:

  1. Conduct research to determine the current maturity of blockchain, assess the readiness for government to adopt the technology, and identify problems that blockchain might be able to solve.
  2. Develop a possible solution for one of the problems identified in the research, and understand the potential of using blockchain to support government services. 

Today, Australia's DTA released its own announcement, detailing its allotted budget and the government's plans for potential blockchain implementations. This includes a digital identity program called Govpass, which received $92.4 million AUD in funding for the year.

Relatedly, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) published regulatory stipulations for digital currency exchanges in Australia last month – signifying the government's understanding of the divide between blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies that employ it.  

Jordan Daniell

Jordan Daniell has a passion for techno-social developments and cultural evolution. In his spare time, he enjoys astronomy, playing the bagpipes, and exploring southern California on foot. Jordan holds value in Ether.

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