Australian Bushfires and Blockchain

Australian Bushfires and Blockchain

A number of high profile projects from the blockchain sector have responded to the bushfire crisis in Australia either by donating funds directly to the fire-fighting and relief services involved or asking their communities to pitch in with contributions of their own.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance, blockchain-based holiday accommodation provider Travala, and Australian crypto media outlet Nugget News are some of the more prominent appeals currently underway.

Authorities, services and victims of the unfolding crisis will undoubtedly welcome the additional relief aid. Using a public blockchain to send the funds in a transparent manner should also provide the donators with a visible trail to ensure each dollar and satoshi reaches the intended recipient.

Debatable Causes

Causes of the catastrophe are being debated throughout the mainstream media with questions also being asked around the impact of governmental decisions prior to and ongoing during the firestorm.

In November 2018, the Guardian newspaper foretold of one problematic element facing the emergency services – that of sharing specialised personnel and equipment with counterparts in the U.S.A. One year earlier, a report from The Australia Institute suggested between 20-30 large private dams had been built in the Murray-Darling basin alone “…for the use of corporate agribusiness…” adding to drought conditions.

In light of the information, New South Wales Member of Parliament (MP) Helen Dalton has voiced her opinion on Sky News that all Australian MPs should have to “…disclose their water ownership…” 

While the MP has a valid point, the fact that such information needs to be “disclosed” and is not already known must become to be seen as an anomaly in this day and age.

In December 2017, when discussing property deeds in general, ICOExaminer noted that “As soon as you put land registry certificates onto the blockchain, you essentially bring to the table the ability for countries experiencing high levels of corruption within public office to eliminate at least some of that corruption.”

The focus here is not the controversy of potential corruption but the remedy for outdated disclosure rules.

Countries such as the U.K. have already shown that blockchain technology is feasible for governmental property ownership registration and private companies are trialling interoperability distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions between central land registries and businesses.

While blockchain technology is obviously not the answer to today’s Australian bushfires, the transparency and clarity it can provide is worth considering as the first step to achieving any political and social consensus that will be necessary for the country to recover and prepare for the future.