Labor pledges AU$3 million for Perth Blockchain Academy

Opposition party claims government is holding back Australian business by not embracing blockchain.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Making good on its pledge to push blockchain in government, the Australia Labor Party has announced a commitment to spend AU$3 million on the creation of Australia's first Blockchain Academy in Perth.

Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Husic said the western capital was already "flourishing" with blockchain startups, and the academy would provide a focal point.

"The Liberal government has failed to tackle major tech skills shortages that are holding back Australian businesses," Husic said.

"Labor wants to address this, investing in Australians to develop job skills that are in high demand now and into the future."

Once the Academy has proven itself, the model could be rolled out in other places around the nation, Husic said, and is an example of how Labor is supporting "the evolution of the nation's digital economy".

Husic added that Labor could spend money on initiatives such as this because it would be closing "unfair tax loopholes for the top end of town".

Should Labor win the upcoming May 18 election, Husic's enthusiastic embrace of blockchain would put him at odds with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) which would be within his remit.

The DTA completed a recent investigation into blockchain, and decided it would not be pushed into using the hyped technology, instead choosing to hang back and let the hype result in standardisation so it does not end up backing the wrong implementation.

"For every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology -- alternate databases, secure connections, standardised API engagement," DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander said in October.

Alexander later compared the use of blockchain with deciding what format of movie media to use.

"For government to use a technology, pick a winner, maybe the best analogy is we might choose the Betamax version of blockchain and have a number of implementations of that, when other agencies and organisations are using VHS, and then someone else will come along and use DVDs or Bluray, and in the end all we want to do is watch a movie, and we've chosen an implementation which isn't going to interoperate particularly well with others," he said.

However Husic told ZDNet last month that a divide exists between "people in the know" who recognise the merits and application versus people who are "completely distinct, do not think, or have no familiarity with blockchain itself" who he said are in "a position to make decisions about applications and won't because they think there's something else around".

Earlier on Wednesday, Amazon announced a new managed blockchain service.

Related Coverage

Amazon Managed Blockchain now generally available

The decentralised blockchain service is limited to HyperLedger and those operating out of the US East (N. Virginia) availability zone.

Samsung SDS and Mahindra to collaborate in blockchain

The two companies have come together in a bid to take the Samsung SDS Nexledger blockchain platform to the global stage.

China could soon ban cryptocurrency mining: Report

The South China Morning Post has reported the country's economic planning body is moving to ban cryptocurrency mining facilities.

Labor to push blockchain in government despite DTA reservations

The DTA considers it over-hyped, but Data61 is bullish on the long-term application of blockchain and Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Husic agrees.

DTA hanging back from blockchain hype to avoid picking betamax-chain

Biggest issue surrounding blockchain is the lack of standardisation, Australia's Digital Transformation Agency has said.

Editorial standards