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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 682..


MR PRATT (continuing):

information about the damage that has been done to the emergency services. It was not rocket science to work that out, and it is a great pity, an absolute pity, that she did not. Dr Foskey this morning said that she still does not quite know what was wrong with the ESB in 2003—that the facts about the circumstances of the ESB's failure in 2003 are still being worked through. I do not know where that comes from. I would have thought that any MLA in this Assembly after 21/2 years would have a very good idea of what had gone wrong with the Emergency Services Bureau in 2003. The opposition would like to see the Greens inquiring into these matters somewhat more closely.

Dr Foskey criticised the opposition for apparently not representing the community yesterday in the motion that we ran on the ESA. But of course the opposition were representing the concerns of the emergency services, shall I say, subcommunity. We certainly were, and we were representing the concerns of our constituents, who need to know that they are going to be safe in the ACT, who need to have confidence that there is an emergency management system that is going to ensure that all the preventative planning is done in time, that our emergency services are well scrutinised and that ministerial oversight is in place to ensure that those services are there .

So we are quite disappointed with the fact that the Greens are missing in action at the moment on these major concerns. We would like to see a lot more scrutiny by the Greens of the government and its failures, particularly in emergency management, so we express our disappointment here today that that was not the case in the no-confidence motion.

Access card

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.19): Tonight I would like to discuss a very important issue which is due to be debated in the Senate next week, and that is the Human Services (Enhanced Service Delivery) Bill 2007. I would like to thank Dr Foskey for organising a forum on this very important issue held on Monday in the Assembly building. This legislation would see the introduction of the so-called access card. The Howard government maintains that this access card is voluntary. However, this is simply misleading. If someone does not have an access card they will be denied access to the Medicare rebate, pharmaceuticals covered by the PBS, family tax benefits and Centrelink benefits.

If passed in its current form, this legislation will have significant ramifications for privacy and other related problems in Australia. Despite the federal government's denial that this is an all-purpose ID card, it clearly goes beyond what is necessary to assess health and welfare benefits. In its current form, the legislation can lead to serious privacy abuses. I understand that privacy must be balanced against other public interests such as national security and law enforcement; however, this new scheme does not pass the balancing test.

This bill provides that a name, personal number, digital signature, biometric photograph and expiry date must be displayed on the face of the card. A digital signature is an obvious security risk; for example, a teller at the video store or bank can just take a photocopy. The information that will be stored on the chip is also of concern. Some information will be available to be read by anyone who buys a


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