National ID card? $1.1 billion+
Freedom and privacy? Priceless!
The Federal government calls it
a ‘Human Services Access Card’, ‘Smartcard’, ‘Consumer Card’ or even a ‘People’s Card’ …
We call it for what it is: The proposal for a National ID Card System
- 1. Snapshot overview: the proposed national ID card system (‘Access Card’)
- 2. Current Status
- 3. Information pack
- APF Policy documents:
- Spot the difference: Australia Card v. the so-called ‘Access Card’
- Why every Australian should oppose this proposed national ID card system
- Information Paper: What we do (and don’t) know about the proposed ‘Access Card’
- Submission to Taskforce, with covering letter (July 31 2006)
- Speech to public forum ‘The Access Card – fallacies and facts’ (9 November 2006) NEW!
- Our media releases
- 4. Media reports, links, and other resources
- 5. History and background to the proposal (separate page)
1. Snapshot overview:
About the proposed national ID card system (‘Access Card’)
The so-called ‘Access Card’ proposal, as announced by the Australian Government in April 2006, is to introduce a single new card for adults, to replace the Medicare card and various benefit cards issued by Centrelink and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The proposal is that the card would include a biometric photograph of the adult, and be suitable as a multi-purpose “proof of identity” card, not limited to claiming health and social security benefits.
The card technology proposed to be used is a ‘smart card’, meaning there would be a computer chip inside the card, and special readers would need to be installed by any person or organisation wanting to ‘read’ the information from the chip. (Although there would also be some information clearly visible on the face and back of the card.)
The proposal also includes the development of a unique identification number for every person – not just adults.
The proposal includes that information about the adult card-holder, and their dependents (children), be held on the chip, and also on a national population register database to be created by the Department of Human Services through a major investigation checking everyone’s identity.
The Australian Privacy Foundation believes this proposal is effectively a proposal for a national ID card system, and we oppose it as such.
2. Current Status
The so-called ‘Access Card’ proposal was approved by Cabinet (26 April 2006), and received a four-year budget starting 1 July 2006 of $1.09 billion (9 May 2006).
The two most senior staff running and designing the project have already quit. They cited privacy, information security and accountability concerns with the project, as have a number of independent commentators and experts.
Professor Allen Fels has been appointed to head a Consumer and Privacy Taskforce (24 May 2006). No terms of reference have been provided. At the announcement, Human Services Minister Joe Hockey called the proposal a ‘Consumer Card’, which ‘the private sector would almost certainly be allowed to read’. (It is unclear why ‘[Human Services] Access Card’, ‘Smartcard’ and ‘Consumer Card’ have all been used as names for this proposed national ID system; the uncertain nomeclature adds to confusion.)
Key information about the proposal remains secret. Minister Hockey initially promised the Australian Privacy Foundation that he would ‘shortly’ (9 May 2006) release the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) prepared by Clayton Utz. He then later refused to do so, calling the PIA ‘redundant’ (24 May 2006). However government officials giving evidence before the Senate on 25 May 2006 said the PIA was prepared in conjunction with, and on the same basis as, the business case prepared by KPMG used by the Government to justify its budget and Cabinet’s approval. Neither Prof Fels nor the Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis have been able to have the PIA released.
Edited parts of the Business Case, prepared by KPMG in February 2006, were finally published on 6 June 2006. However, critical chapters were missing, including:
- the cost/benefit analysis,
- the explanation of how the proposal will allegedly reduce fraud, and
- any discussion of the privacy implications for Australians.
The Australian Privacy Foundation continues its call to have the Privacy Impact Assessment published immediately. If the PIA is ‘redundant’, then so is the government’s whole ‘Business Case’ for the project.
APF also demands the release of the Terms of Reference and briefing documents provided to KPMG and Clayton Utz, on which they based their assessments, and the critical omissions from the business case.
Note: This information last updated 6 June 2006.
Update: Speech at public forum 9 November.
3. Information pack
- Spot the Difference – Comparing the two National ID card proposals (June 13 2006) [PDF]
- Why every Australian should oppose the so-called ‘Access Card’ proposal (July 4 2006) [PDF]
- Information Paper: What we do (and don’t) know about the proposed ‘Access Card’ (July 14 2006) [500k PDF]
- Submission to Taskforce, with covering letter (July 31 2006)
- Speech at public forum ‘The Access Card – fallacies and facts’ (9 November 2006) NEW!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
[Answers to follow soon – please suggest extra questions!]
- FAQ: what makes something a ‘national ID card’? – see Quacking like a duck: national ID Card proposal (2006) cf. Australia Card (1986-87)
- FAQ: what’s wrong with a national ID card?
- FAQ: if the Government’s got all our information anyway, what’s the difference?
- FAQ: how is this so-called ‘Access Card’ different to the Australia Card?
- FAQ: what’s changed since the Australia Card debate 20 years ago?
- FAQ: if I’ve got nothing to hide, do I have anything to fear from this proposed national ID card system?
- FAQ: what is “smartcard technology”?
- FAQ: what have other countries done with smartcards?
- FAQ: what is a “biometric photograph”, and how does “facial recognition technology” work?
- FAQ: what are the objectives of the proposed Access Card system (and will they be achieved)?
- FAQ: how will the card be used?
- FAQ: how will the national population register database be used?
- FAQ: how much will this proposed national ID card system cost?
- FAQ: have the government counted all the costs, or only their direct costs to build it?
- FAQ: how big a problem is welfare fraud (and how else can it be tackled)?
Our media contributions
- Letter to AFR: Access Card will be our national ID card (9 November) NEW!
- Media release: Hockey shows his true colours on ID Card (9 November 2006) NEW!
- Media release: Rights and wrongs in smartcard debate (2 October 2006, Letter published in AFR) NEW!
- Media release: So-called ‘Access Card’ worse than the Australia Card (June 13 2006)
- Media Release: ‘What does Joe Hockey have to hide?’ 25 May 2006
- Media Release: ‘Will the real ID card please stand up?’ 28 April 2006
- Media Release: ‘ID card flaws in budget strategy’ 8 May 2006
4. Media reports, links, and other resources
There is a considerable amount of information on related APF Campaign Pages for the predecessor projects, which were:
- the Medicare Smartcard (2004-2005),
- the early stages of the Human Services Smartcard (April 2005 – 26 April 2006), and
- the A/G’s National ID Card project (July 2005 – 26 April 2006).
A related project is the Document Verification System
Resources re the Government’s Proposal
- Kelvin Thomson, Shadow Minister’s speech to Access Card Forum, 9 November NEW!
- Minister Hockey’s Media Release: ‘First Tenders and Appointments called to deliver Access Card’, 11 May 2006, mirrored here
- 7 short documents released by the Department of Human Services with the Budget, 9 May 2006
- ‘Government to proceed with access card’ Media Release by PM John Howard, 26 April 2006, mirrored here (because government Media Releases can disappear as soon as they become inconvenient, or when Governments change)
- Media Conference by Howard, with Attorney-General Ruddock and Minister for Human Services Joe Hockey, 26 April 2006, after the Cabinet meeting, mirrored here
- the half page of information initially provided by the Government, undated, probably 26 April 2006, mirrored here
Resources on the proposed national ID card system generally
- APF’s resources on National ID Schemes
- ‘Access Card No Way’ campaign: http://www.accesscardnoway.net/
- Quacking like a duck: national ID Card proposal (2006) cf. Australia Card (1986-87), Prof Graham Greenleaf
- Health Issues Centre’s submission to the Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce
This section has links to media coverage of the proposal.
- History and background to the 2006 national ID card proposal – a separate APF page with extracts from these reports
- the UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre’s references on the proposed national ID card debate 2006.
Some of the hundreds of media reports:
8 August 2006 –
The Australian3 August 2006 – “Smartcard worries doctors“, The Australian
4 July 2006 – “
27 June 2006 – “Smartcard secrecy hinders discussion“, The Australian
17 June 2006 – “Smart card report prompts privacy concerns“, ABC News Online
17 June 2006 – “Privacy fears linger over smartcard“, The Age
17 June 2006 – “Warning on ID card by stealth“, Herald Sun
13 June 2006 – “The $1billion house of cards” Sydney Morning Herald
13 June 2006 – New card same as Australia Card, The Australian
5 June 2006 – Access card could link to surveillance, The Age
30 May 2006 – Smartcard contracts blow budgets, The Australian
12 May 2006 – ‘Disaster card plan triggers storm’, Sydney Morning Herald
12 May 2006 – ‘Australia budgets A$1.1B for smart-card development’, ComputerWorld (NZ)
12 May 2006 – ‘Commercial access on the cards’, The Australian
11 May 2006 – ‘$1bn smart card to roll despite privacy swipes’, The Australian
11 May 2006 – ‘Privacy officer to monitor smart card’, Sydney Morning Herald
11 May 2006 – ‘Government begins search for smart card ‘advisors”, ZDNet Australia
10 May 2006 – ‘Hockey spruiks card with a little help from Edna, 72’, Sydney Morning Herald
9 May 2006 – ‘Smartcard tenders tipped for this week’, The Australian
9 May 2006 – ‘Feds confirm smart card, Centrelink spend’, ZDNet Australia
8 May 2006 – ‘Smartcard will save ‘billions”, The Age
8 May 2006 – ‘Smartcard chief quits PS in disgust’, The Australian Financial Review
8 May 2006 – ‘Privacy Foundation: Put ID card “on hold immediately”‘, iTnews
4 May 2006 – ‘Bitten by control card’, The Courier Mail, 4 May 2006
2 May 2006 – ‘Smartcard heading for fall’, The Australian
30 April 2006 – Channel Nine Sunday Poll
29 April 2006 – ‘Identity crisis’, Sydney Morning Herald
28 April 2006 – ‘That’s not an ID card …’, National Nine News
28 April 2006 – ‘ Police to get smartcard data’, The Australian
28 April 2006 – ‘Smart card savings estimate to be released’, ABC News
27 April 2006 – ‘Liberal backbencher criticises smart card plan’, ABC News
27 April 2006 – ‘Official: national card due by 2010’, Sydney Morning Herald
27 April 2006 – ‘PM can’t calm Coalition nerves on smart card’, The Australian
27 April 2006 – ‘Smart card raises privacy concerns’, ABC News
27 April 2006 – ‘Smart card savings kept under wraps’, ABC News
27 April 2006 – ‘Details will clear up smart card concerns: Hockey‘, ABC TV News
27 April 2006 – ‘An ID card by any other name?’, ZDNet Australia
27 April 2006 – Australia Talks Back , ABC National
27 April 2006 – editorial, Herald Sun
26 April 2006 – ‘ID cards to foil fraud, terrorism’, Sydney Morning Herald
26 April 2006 – ‘Government photo-ID card for all Australians’ , The Australian
26 April 2006 – ‘Cabinet reignites smart card debate’, ABC News Online
26 April 2006 – ‘Govt remains divided over ‘smart card’ plan’, ABC National, The World Today
26 April 2006 – ‘Cabinet approves smart card’, ABC TV News
5. History and background to the current proposal for a national ID card system
See separate page.