Australia Card – National Identification System

This Submission canvassed whether the Northern Territory Government should cooperate with the Commonwealth's proposal for a national identification system, to be known as the Australia Card.  The operation of the Australia Card relied on states and territories providing the Commonwealth’s Health Insurance Commission with access to Births, Deaths and Marriages records in each jurisdiction.

The Australia Card was intended to replace the Medicare Card, and the database for the Australia Card would contain the name, address, sex, date of birth, date of death, Australia Card number, and signature of the person concerned. Consideration was also being given to whether the record would contain a photograph of each individual.

The Australia Card was expected to assist in combating tax evasion by aiding the identification of participants in financial transactions and persons lawfully entitled to undertake work in Australia. It also aimed to prevent employment under false names and false taxation instalment declarations, promote greater compliance with the requirement to declare interest and dividend income, and enable better auditing of business tax papers and detection of non-lodgers.  The Card was also expected to reduce social security fraud through the identification of people seeking income maintenance assistance.

Cabinet agreed that the Territory may be prepared to cooperate with the proposed national identification system, subject to:

  • the Commonwealth agreeing to pay the cost of computerisation of the Territory’s births, deaths and marriages records
  • protection of civil liberties and privacy
  • limitation of the use of the Australia card information and number to combating tax evasion, abuse of social welfare programs and to assist in identifying illegal immigrants
  • the information not being made available to any third party without the Territory’s approval
  • no access to the Territory’s adoption records
  • indemnity against claims based on dissemination of information from the Territory’s records.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission No. 3816 and decision number 4459 (1.6 mb) of 28 January 1986

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Last updated: 15 December 2016