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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3154 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

or somewhere similar. We know that in the international arena those who smuggle people, launder money and move drugs and arms are into identify fraud in a big way.

In Australia alone we have estimated identify theft to cost in excess of $2 billion per year. This is miniscule compared to the losses in the USA where credit card fraud makes up 50 per cent of identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, and where ID theft victims either knew or were related to the criminals in 14 per cent of cases reported.

He went on to outline some key questions around how to deal with the problem. These extend today's debate beyond this particular remedy for fraud, but I think it is worth raising these issues. Tightening the process for registering a new name and getting recognition for it is one thing; introducing an identity card is another again. How should government organisations identify people when they issue official documents such as birth certificates, drivers licences and passports? Is it enough to rely on documentary evidence or should people be interviewed or asked to provide some biometric evidence, such as a fingerprint?

Would a nationally issued identity document solve the problems of identity-related fraud, or would it just be another document that could be counterfeited and abused by fraudsters? Should it be possible to share information on public and private sector databases in order to find counterfeit or altered documents used to verify identity? Should the police maintain a database of identities that have been used for dishonest purposes? What is the right balance in terms of ensuring accuracy of identification, business efficiency and cost effectiveness, and personal liberty?

Later in his paper he outlined some of the considerations to be addressed in looking at these options, including the likelihood that the risk will be realised, the cost of countermeasures, the effectiveness of the technologies used, the user friendliness of systems, privacy concerns if data matching is contemplated, and possible negative consequences of the behaviour of users.

It is also going to be very important to consider the type of society we may create by pursuing various measures. In pursuing these measures, it will be important to have the parliament involved. Much of this kind of work is being done at a national level, which too often means that it is at the councils of relevant ministers or relevant departmental officers, and the Assembly and other jurisdictions which are supposed to be responsible for this area of law are presented with a fait accompli, even with the risk of some sanction against the ACT if we dare to consider the problem in context for our own community and make changes.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (11.27), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to the debate. This is an important issue. The amendment is designed to ensure, essentially, that there will be at least a reduction of identity fraud in relation to commercial dealings. The issue has been well covered.

The bill does overcome a gap in our registration provisions, particularly as demonstrated in the difference between the Registration of Deeds Act and the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, but the government is responding to advice

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