Australia to explore a national identity card

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The debate over whether Australians should be required to have a national identity card has been reignited following an announcement by Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock yesterday that a study will be conducted.

The concept is not new, being first floated by Bob Hawke in 1986. The idea was abandoned after being defeated in the Australian Senate and due to strong criticism.

The government cites terrorism and fraud protection as needs for a universal national identity system.

The opposition remains neutral on the proposal, saying only that cost and privacy would be major issues.

Defence Minister Robert Hill is cautious of such a plan, saying "I don't believe governments are entitled to any more information about you than is absolutely necessary".

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents big business in Australia has voiced its opposition to the plan claiming the system could cost $750 per person to introduce, most of which would be borne by big business.