Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
Interpreting Privacy Principles research project
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The proposed national ID card system research project (2006–2007)

This project aimed to encourage research and analysis about the proposal announced by the previous Australian government on 26 April 2006 for what appeared to be a national ID card system. It has been variously referred to as an "Access Card", a "Smart Card", and a number of other names.

The Australian government's $1 billion+ plan to introduce an 'access and benefits smart card' in the period 2006-2010 was one of the most significant developments in the relationship between information technology, law and policy in Australia at the time. In early 2007 it was reputed to be the biggest IT project opportunity for IT service providers anywhere. The Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre's focus on 'the public interest in networked transactions' means that this proposal had to be one of our primary areas of research.

The Centre's researchers released a series of research papers on various aspects of the proposal. These commenced with the examination below of the extent to which this proposal is in fact a proposal for a national ID card and system — and a conclusion which gave us the title of the project.

(The characterisation of the proposal has been controversial from its inception, but on the basis of our comparative research into other national ID card system proposals, and given discretionary legislative power in the proposed Bill in 2007 to change the official name at any time, and an apparent absence of watertight limitations on use, it remains appropriate to discuss it under the generic description of a proposed national ID card system.)

We contributed research and argument to other investigations of the government's proposals, including those of the Senate and the Taskforce headed by Prof. Fels, and we were willing to assist any enquiries that the Federal Privacy Commissioner might have made. The Centre's researchers also contributed where appropriate to public debate on this issue.

Postscript: Following the 2007 Federal Election and subsequent change of government, the project will not proceed further.

Project publications and submissions

The documents below have been generated as part of this project.

The Project is also developing an initial list of media references to the proposal, which may be updated from time to time.

Proposed legislation and related inquiries

Report of Senate Committee 15 March 2007

'Identity Cards and the Access Card', Report by Parliamentary Library 13 March 2007

Hansard transcript of Senate Committee hearings:

(See also 2008 Senate Hansard, noted in the section below.)

Submissions to the Senate Committee

Senate inquiry, and related media release. Announced 8 Feb, deadline 28 February 2007. See above for report.

Human Services (Enhanced Service Delivery) Bill 2007 [PDF] 5 February 2007

Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill

Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee hearing, Hansard of 16 February 2007 [PDF] from p1.

Office of Access Card Summary of responses to Exposure Draft (compiled into one document)

Exposure Draft of Human Services (Enhanced Service Delivery) Bill (available 13 December 2006)
and some of the 120 submissions (12 January 2007)

Other websites about the proposed national ID system





Depending on whether the project appeared to be progressing, the project was investigating hosting a Symposium in Sydney in 2007, following the forum in November 2006 at PIAC. This Symposium did not go ahead, after the effective abandonment of the project some time in mid-2007, and its rejection by the new government in December 2007.

Contact us

Prof Graham Greenleaf <graham [at]>
David Vaile < d.vaile [at]>

ipp/id_card/Research Projects » Privacy » Proposed national ID card Privacy Project - proposed national ID card system/ 'Access Card' - Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre



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