So many organisations have voiced their opposition in the first few days that we can’t keep track of them all. But here’s a sample.
The Australian Federal Police Association: The AFPA says a national ID card would do nothing to combat terrorism or other crimes (‘ID card ‘not a magic cure’ Courier Mail, 18 July 2005). Mick Keelty has wavered since, presumably under pressure from Liberal Party HQ. He’s muttered about ‘identity theft’ rather than ‘terrorism’.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Peter Hendy, Chief Executive of ACCI, says “a single card would not solve” credit-card fraud.(‘PM keeps national ID card on table’ Australian Financial Review, 15 July 2005, p.3). ACCI was sufficiently concerned about the matter that it commissioned a study.
On 21 December 2005, ACCI reiterated its firm opposition to the introduction of a national identity card. The full report was summarised in The Sydney Morning Herald of 21 December: “A national identity card would cost the Australian economy up to $15 billion and may do little to stop terrorists, the business community has warned. Mr Hendy said overseas identity cards had cost up to $750 per person – or up to $15 billion in Australia – to develop and introduce. There also were additional costs on businesses in flow-on effects. ACCI believes even at $7.5 billion, the cost of an identity card would out-weigh the cost of identification fraud. ACCI found in its research into an identity card that just four countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Cyprus – had introduced identity cards in peace time”.
The Taxation Institute: Michael Dirkis, technical director, says “having an identity card isn’t going to stop the cash economy” (‘PM keeps national ID card on table’ Australian Financial Review, 15 July 2005, p.3
The president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says he has concerns about how easily private medical records could be accessed through a national identification (ID) database. Dr Mukesh Haikerwal says while there should be a debate about whether to introduce a national ID card, terror attacks still happened in Spain despite that country’s national identification scheme (‘ID cards could infringe on privacy: AMA’, ABC News, 20 July 2005)
Australian Computer Society president Edward Mandla said “Commercial companies can’t keep credit card numbers safe, so what guarantee would there be that government could keep that (ID database) safe? There is no guarantee.” He also noted that creating a single identity database also created a single potential point of failure, and a single target for hackers (‘Vanstone supports ID card idea’ The Australian, 18 July 2005)
Various State Councils for Civil Liberties. For example, Queensland Council of Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the creation of a single identity database would be a target for hackers. “It makes it easier by accumulating all the data in one place and if you’re sufficiently technologically sophisticated you break in from a computer system and you can pinch anybody’s ID,” Mr Cope said on ABC radio (‘ID card ‘a boon for hackers” The Australian, 18 July 2005)
Oh yes, and the Australian Privacy Foundation: Australian Privacy Foundation chair Anna Johnston says the idea that a national identity card would make Australia less vulnerable to terrorist attack “was a load of phooey”. Centralising personal information on a single database would make the system vulnerable to hackers, she said (‘Vanstone supports ID card idea’ The Australian, 18 July 2005
The Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic) – Letter to the Editor, The Melbourne Age, 18 January 2006
Oh, and how could we forget these important Opponents:
The Prime Minister, John Howard, who opposed the ID Card in 1986-87, and in September 2000 regarded is as being well off the agenda (Transcript of a Radio Interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, who expressly dismissed the idea throughout the first half of 2005, right up to 14 July, until forced into a humiliating reversal to re-align himself with his Prime Minister’s policy-on-the-run, e.g. on 29 June 2005: “There have been recent suggestions in the media that the Government is going to introduce a national identity card. I can assure you that this is not the case”.
An array of Liberal Party Parliamentarians, appalled at their leader’s judgement.