Statements by Senators: Banking and Financial Services, 22 March 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:48): There’s a famous saying in politics, and that is: ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ There’s an argument to be made that the bank failures we are seeing could be used as an excuse to usher in a brave new world of central bank digital currency. Mr Acting Deputy President, you can think of CBDC as digital money, but it’s very different to what you have in your NetBank right now. It’s based on blockchain technology, so you need to think of it more as a coupon or a voucher—that’s a more accurate description.

This money is programmable. The government will be able to see exactly where your money is, where it goes, what it’s spent on et cetera. CBDC, when you really think about it, is arguably more dangerous to your freedom than a standing army. I’ll give you an example, Mr Acting Deputy President. The government could easily restrict what you spend your money on. Perhaps they could restrict how much alcohol you can buy or what food you can buy. Perhaps they could say, ‘You can only purchase a certain amount of red meat this month because you’ve reached your carbon quota.’ Perhaps the government could set an expiry date or a negative interest rate on your digital money. The potential for abuse of this technology is limitless, and, at the end of the day, it’s first and foremost about control of the population through the financial system.

Anyone who might say, ‘The government would never do that,’ or, ‘It would never happen,’ has not been paying attention over the last two years. The government absolutely could do that. People must push back against a central bank digital currency, lest we lose what little freedom we have left. This is not a conspiracy theory. Our central bank is doing a trial of CBDC right now.