Friday, June 22, 2007

It's back!!! Australia's Access Card returns.

Infringement notices will be part of a new armory of weapons proposed by the government to ensure that its planned Access Card is not used improperly.

The Human Minister Chris Ellison yesterday released an exposure draft of the government’s revised Access Card Bill, prepared after the earlier one was withdrawn in the wake of a hostile report by a Senate Committee.

The new draft Bill resubmits many of the proposals criticised by the committee including the display of identifying information including names, photographs, ID numbers and signatures on the face of the card.

The Committee suggested that including this information on the face of the card when it would already be digitally embedded in the card would encourage its use as a general identification document outside of the government...

The draft bill says that it will be illegal for anyone not associated with the provision of government benefits to demand that the card be produced as evidence of identity.

In an attempt to make this restriction more enforceable it proposed a system of infringement notices enabling fines to be imposed on people such as nightclub bouncers or call centre operators who demanded production of the card of the use of its ID number.

The director of the No ID Card Campaign Anna Johnston said last night that the bill was effectively unchanged and ridden with loopholes.

The card could still be requested as identification by private service providers – it just could not be “required”.

“And government officials from police officers to bus drivers to social workers will be able to demand production of the card. Indeed, immigration officials have already suggested that the card could be used to identify missing or detained persons – a purpose unrelated to the delivery of health or welfare benefits”.

She said banks already planed to use the Access Card as part of the “100 points of ID” system to monitor financial transactions. The only way to stop the card becoming an all-purpose identification card was to “remove the features that make it an all-purpose ID card.”

The Minister has asked for comments on the exposure draft by 21 August.