Statements by Senators – Digital Economy, Wednesday 8 November, 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:48): Before I begin my excellent presentation, I want to say hello to the kids upstairs from King’s College, Warrnambool. Hello, kids! I hope you’re doing well.

Today’s Optus outrage should act as a warning to all Australians. The proposed central bank digital currency is a terrible idea. Ten million Aussies discovered today that when your access to the internet is disrupted your entire life is disrupted. And it wasn’t just individuals. The Optus failure affected hospitals and emergency services.

Was it a system failure? Was it a hack? We don’t know at this point. What we do know is that only a fool would see what has happened today and still agree to make his life entirely reliant upon the internet. Governments around the world have been relentless in their push for digital currency and digital ID.

I have continually warned here in this place that this is a recipe for disaster. What happens when your data is hacked? What happens when the government blocks your access to money or services as punishment for stepping out of line, like Nigel Farage? What happens when you exceed your carbon limit and you discover that your ability to buy and sell is suddenly cut off? Online currency and data are great servants, but, as Optus customers discovered to their own hurt today, they are also terrible masters.

People who value freedom—I hope that’s most of us here—will resist the push to digitise our lives, our identity and our money. We must resist. While we still have cash—that form of currency that can be accessed without being under the prying, all-seeing eye of the state—we still remain free people. This freedom must not be taken, and it must not be surrendered by the people. We must hold onto cash.