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Australian Labor Party has made good on its promise to push blockchain into the forefront, by making a commitment to spend AU$3 million, aimed solely at the creation of Australia’s first Blockchain Academy in Perth.
If indeed this would happen, it would inevitably put West Australia at the forefront of the threshold of the tech revolution that has been taking the nation by storm. Perth is the obvious choice for this academy, seeing that it is home to flourishing startup culture, with several crypto firms in the inception stage. For example, the Perth-based firm PowerLedger has utilized this tech as part of its business model for years. The interest in blockchain has been increasing in Australia, with a higher number of patent filings, and almost double the number of interested firms, over the past two years alone. This is a tremendous sign of progress.
Labor Party’s Ed Husichas stated that “The Liberal government has failed to tackle major tech skills shortages that are holding back Australian businesses,” and thus expressing the Labor’s interest in rectifying this condition, investing in citizens developing high demand job skills.
The Labor Party is hopeful that a successful Perth model of the Academy could lead to wide-scale adaptation of the venture, hoping to prove that the Party supports the evolution of the nation’s digital economy. If the Labor wins the upcoming elections, it might put them at odds with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), who recently decided against using blockchain technology, opting instead to let the hype surrounding it settle down.
The new Blockchain Academy is backed by big industry giants, like the Australia Digital Currency Association (ACDA). A single blockchain developer can get 14 more job opportunities, which is a huge deal. Leigh Travers from Blockchain Australia calls blockchain the most interesting tech over the past few decades, promising that the industry opened up wide career options.
Blockchain Academy comes as a second step Labor has committed to after Husic and Chris Bowen announced a $4 million worth National Centre for Artificial Intelligence Excellence in Melbourne, aimed at skill development for upcoming applications and cases in artificial intelligence.
Additionally, the Labor Party aims to make Perth a key player in the Australian tech and innovation division. This would ensure that the east coast alone does not become the hub of all things tech. Perth also provides a great geographic advantage, being in a position to link to other global cities that are making blockchain an integral part of its financial technology operations, like Singapore.
With blockchain technology garnering high interest in the Australian Stock Exchange, trades are expected to settle quickly, and with a lower risk factor, and also with the new, ready to implement industrial-scale blockchain in financial services. This is the first of its kind in the world, all set for March 2021.
With the currently running active blockchain projects of Australia Post, and the Commonwealth Bank, this is seen as a widely accepted step, and the Labor Party has garnered huge support for the same, but not everyone appears convinced of its worth as an investment possibility. “For every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology — alternate databases, secure connections, standardized API engagement,” DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander said in October.
While no doubt it can increase the job possibilities in the nation and opens up a realm of possibilities in the future of the tech sector in Australia, the question is whether or not the Labor Party can generate enough support to make its dream come true.
It remains to be seen whether the party can see its commitment to successful completion, and what effect this has on the country.