The ghost of the Australian Identity Card

While some countries want to implement an identity control system using the latest techniques, others are very reluctant. Their refusal is often based on the peculiarities of implementation of the first projects which proved clumsy. This is particularly the case in Australia, which has been experiencing legal and parliamentary polemics since 1985
in order to prevent tax evasion and fraud in health and welfare. The Australian Parliament was unable to obtain the necessary majority, and then defects in form were discovered in the implementing texts associated with the project.

Following the shelving of the Australian identity card project, the Federal government expanded the tax file number system to allow for the return of benefits received and the tax paid by individuals. This unique numbering scheme is close to the United States Social Security number.

The proposal for an Australian biometric Identity Card resurfaces periodically, in particular with a view to more effectively combating terrorism and remedying the flaws in the immigration system. But Australian public opinion is heavily influenced by arguments widely disseminated within the Commonwealth about the supposed danger of entrusting a citizen’s personal information into a data bank. The cost price of such a system, although not communicated, frightens the citizens and the recent errors of the Australian administration do not go in the direction of a total confidence in the economies evoked. On the other hand, the legendary skill of forgers raises fears of unnecessary investment. Ultimately, after more than 30 years of debate, the polemic continues without major progress for each of the two camps.

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