Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 683..
MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):
smartcard from their local electronics store. However, other information will require a PIN. Allan Fels, who headed an inquiry into the card, expressed concern, particularly in regard to the medical information stored on the chip and the fact that it can be altered by anyone who has access to a card reader.
The Howard government has also claimed that the access card will reduce fraud. This is not true; in fact it may even foster it. The registration process is far from secure and watertight. At present the Australian government does not have the technology to detect fake birth and marriage certificates. The Attorney-General's Department revealed during Senate estimates in February that secure electronic document verification services, which will enable all governments in Australia to verify the authenticity of identification documents, will not become complete until 2010.
This throws up great concern since the government plans to start registrations for the access card in April 2008, two years before the DVS system is operating. This means that a criminal could steal somebody's entire identity by using scanned copies of original documents that cannot be verified. Clearly, rather than preventing identity fraud, an access card will perpetrate existing fraud and risk the security and privacy of millions of Australians.
Another issue of concern is the fact that an Australian must be at least 18 in order to be eligible for the access card. Under the current system Medicare cards and healthcare cards are available to 16 and 17-year-olds. However, every 16 and 17-year-old must write to the Secretary to the Department of Human Services to get permission for their own access card. This is simply ridiculous on a number of levels. Firstly, many young people live away from home and, secondly, this is particularly worrying for the confidentiality of teenagers for their access to Centrelink, medical services and PBS medicines. This is unacceptable as it denies young people the privacy and Medicare rights that they deserve.
Furthermore, the access card will have an adverse impact on consumer confidence in Medicare. This will lead to enormous problems with communicable diseases, as people will not use medical services due to fear of being traced because of the necessity to use an access card. At present the AFP cannot demand to see Medicare records. However, under the access card they will, along with ASIO, have full access to all information stored on the cards.
The federal government access card is clearly flawed. While I support the use of smartcard technology in improving service delivery for Medicare and social security, and in reducing fraud, this proposal is fraught with problems and disproportionately invades the privacy of all Australians.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (6.23): Mr Speaker, I too join Mr Pratt and others in expressing great concern in relation to the incidents in Zimbabwe. Whilst it is a long way away, these things do concern us. Indeed, the appalling human rights abuses by the Mugabe regime over the last five or six years are quite disgraceful and I think it is a concern that countries that could do something,