Australian senate committee calls for national blockchain land registry

Regulation

An Australian senate committee has published a report calling for a blockchain-based national land registry, better clarity over laws relating to smart contracts, and continued efforts to establish international standards for DLT.

The Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre’s second interim report offers 23 recommendations spanning blockchain, consumer data, and corporate taxation.

Five recommendations deal specifically with blockchain and digital assets, including that the Council of Financial Regulators Cyber Working Group takes into account international data standards.

The committee recommended that National Cabinet consider supporting a blockchain-powered national land registry as a pilot project for Commonwealth-State cooperation on “RegTech’ to highlight ways to streamline administrative processes in both the public and private sectors.

“The committee was particularly impressed with the potential for blockchain to drive efficiencies in the area of land registries, and is recommending that this issue be further explored in the context of the National Cabinet.”

Zooming out, the committee noted there was a need for more clarity and certainty in digital asset regulations, and highlighted concerns from industry stakeholders regarding “the uncertain status” of smart contracts under Australian law.

Despite hearing about the concerns, the committee didn’t hear many solutions:

“While the committee heard extensive evidence on the need for such regulation, it heard less on concrete ideas for how this regulation should best be crafted.” 

Instead it recommended the Australian Government “consider how best to improve clarity with respect to the standing of smart contracts.”

The report called on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources, or DISER, to publish regular updates on the progress of the National Blockchain Roadmap and to to review and update the roadmap as the space evolved. 

Moving forward, the committee plans to review how capital gains are applied to cryptocurrency transactions, and give deeper consideration to the regulatory implications of central bank digital currencies and stablecoins during the final phase of its inquiries.

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