Australia’s War On Cash

Australia’s War On Cash

Australia is under threat of a controversial Currency Restriction Bill, also known in the public eye as the ‘cash ban’.

The Currency Restriction Bill is aiming to ban cash payments above $10,000, and can impose a two-year jail sentence and fines up to $25,200, for people using cash above this limit. This forces people and businesses to use electronic transactions and cheques over cash.

The proposed cash ban was first argued that the implementation would help to stop criminal gangs from using large sums of cash for purchases of cars, houses and jewellery in an attempt to launder their gains from illegal activities.

Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, commented,

“We know that large amounts of cash are essential to the business model of criminal gangs. The cash payment limit will also help to disrupt organized crime syndicates, who try to wash the cash from the proceeds of manufacturing and selling drugs and other serious crimes through the legitimate economy. I look forward to working with the Senate to pass this important reform designed to protect honest Australians from being ripped off.”

However, this proposed bill has come with its fair share of widespread backlash from the Australian community, the Governments own MP’s, as well as several lobby groups including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

Their main concerns are the restriction of freedom for the people, which in turn will give authorities far greater control.

MP, Rebekha Sharkie has shared her views opposing the bill, stating,

“Restricting peoples ability to purchase products with cash and forcing them to use banks or other financial intermediaries for purchases over $10,000 is an unreasonable restriction on their personal freedom. We are focusing on criminalising their knowledge of risk rather than focusing on criminalising black economy activities that we actually want to stop.”

Sharkie went on to mention the negative interest rates and her concerns in regards to this,

“We have interest rates at an all time low, essentially meaning it costs money for people with savings to have their money in the bank. But, with this bill, we are not providing them with any alternative, and that is just plain wrong.”

John Adams – “A major assault to the economic freedom in Australia”

John Adams, a professional economic analyst, warned that the cash restricting law infringes on the publics liberties and will essentially punish law abiding Australians for how they wish to spend their money.

“The proposed bill (and associated instrument) are a major affront and assault to economic freedom in Australia and represents a significant curtailment to Australian civil liberties. The proposed laws would punish individual Australians as to how they wish to spend their private wealth, including whether:

– they wish to conduct transactions independent of Australia’s commercial banking system; and

– they wish to conduct their economic affairs in private”

In a report submitted by Adams on August 5th, 2019, he went on to discuss his concerns about the little impact that the cash ban will actually have on the black economy market, quoting Friedrich Schneider, who took out an independent study in 2017 on restricting or abolishing cash.

Frieder in his report stated,

“Cash has a minor influence on the shadow economy, crims and terrorism, but potentially has a major influence on civil liberties.”

Adams continues on with his report stating his five main concerns for the proposed legislation, these are as quoted;

“Concern 1: The proposed legislation and associated instrument may only be the first step in a series of escalating measures from the Commonwealth which seeks to infringe on the rights on individual Australians and Australian businesses to engage in commerce independent of the commercial banking sector and the RBA’s monetary policy regime (especially if a policy of negative nominal interest rates are pursued).

Concern 2: Given that the exemptions to the cash transaction ban are defined in a legislative instrument and not in the proposed bill, this gives the Executive Government via the Assistant Treasurer significant flexibility to remove the exemptions without the robust scrutiny of Parliament.

Concern 3: Division 2 of Part 2 (relating to offences) is missing from the draft exposure version of the bill. It is grossly disappointing that concerned citizens have not been able to see the full version of the bill during the current Treasury consultation round.

Given the high interest in this matter, Treasury should consider launching a new consultation round if substantive elements are introduced to the draft bill (or associated legislative instrument) prior to the bill being introduced into parliament.

Concern 4: The bill as drafted creates uncertainty in relation to physical gold and silver bullion. As currently drafted, the cash ban covers physical currency as defined as Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. This definition refers to currency which is ‘legal tender’.

Given this definition, it is uncertain what precisely the Commonwealth considers ‘legal tender’ as it relates to physical gold and silver bullion products. For example, are minted coins issued by the Perth Mint that displays the Queen’s head the only form of domestic gold and silver bullion that is considered to be legal tender?

Would a domestic commercial transaction above $AUD 10,000 between an individual Australian and an enterprise, which involved physical gold and silver bullion not issued by the Perth Mint (for example, a physical gold or silver bullion bar or coin of 99.9% purity minted by a private commercial bullion dealership) be considered in breach of the proposed law or not?

Unfortunately, neither the proposed bill, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 or the Currency Act 1965 provides any clear guidance on this question and hence this issue needs to be clarified.

Concern 5: It is unclear how the Commonwealth intends to enforce this proposed cash transaction ban. Prior to the introduction of the bill into Parliament, the Government needs to provide clarity as to:

– which Commonwealth institution will be charged with enforcing this law?

– what enforcement techniques will the Commonwealth be expecting to use to monitor whether prohibited cash transactions above $AUD 10,000 are not entered into?

– what operational resources will the Commonwealth be spending (including the dollar amount) in enforcing the proposed law? “

The people of Australia have had enough of the Government’s trying and testing social experiments, without any backing evidence that they are actually effectively working.

This seems to be just another one of those experiments, in an attempt to cripple our liberty of freedom over our hard earned money.

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