GOVERNMENT TO PROCEED WITH ACCESS CARD
The Australian Government has decided to proceed in principle with a new access card for health and welfare services. The Government is ruling out introducing a compulsory national ID card.
The new access card system will enable people to obtain Government benefits in a straightforward, convenient and reliable way without having to re-register and repeat the same information each time they visit a different Government office. The system will also assist in minimising fraud and misuse of public funds.
The addition of a digital photograph will significantly enhance the identity security elements of the card, protecting the cardholderís identity and reducing the opportunities for fraud.
The Australian Government needs to be sure that the $92 billion paid each year in health and social service benefits is available to those who are eligible, ensuring that taxpayersí money goes to the right people and that they get the right payment.
A detailed analysis of the financial benefits of the access card by KPMG indicated that it could generate savings of up to $3 billion over 10 years.
The access card will replace 17 health and social services cards and vouchers across the Human Services portfolio. Once registered, people will only need to show their card when they want to access Government services - they will not have to continue producing multiple identity documents every time they want to obtain a benefit.
The access card will have limited cardholder information on it. The card will have the cardholderís name, a digital photograph, their signature and card number. A microchip in the card will store a photo, address, date of birth and details of any children or other dependants. The card will also provide cardholders with the option to voluntarily store other information such as emergency contact details, allergies, health alerts, chronic illnesses, immunisation information and organ donor status. Information held on the access card will be subject to strict protections and will only be accessible by authorised people.
The access card will be phased in over a two year registration period beginning in 2008. From early 2010, people will only be able to obtain government health and social service benefits if they have an access card.
The Government will continue to consult with all interested groups to ensure that the implementation of the access card meets the needs and expectations of all Australians, particularly the elderly and ill and those in remote communities.
Further details on the card will be announced at a later date. Funding details for the access card will be outlined in the Budget.
26 April 2006