Proposed national ID card system research project

(a.k.a. "Health and Social Services Access Card", "Smart Card", "Benefits Card", "People's Card", "every Australian's mini iPod", "a multi-humped, continuingly evolving and self-sustaining camel" ... )

This project aims to encourage research and analysis about the proposal for what appears to be a national ID card system, as announced by the Australian government on 26 April 2006. 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 is probably the most significant current development in the relationship between information technology, law and policy in Australia. 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 must 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 gives 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 powerin 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, 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.

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


Office of Access Card, Department of Human Services

Government Tender

Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, Department of Human Services


Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) ID card page

Access Card No Way

'Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) Smart Card and RFID page


Caslon Analytics

Wikipedia entry

Annabel Stafford, 'Labor pledges to kill off Access Card', The Age, 29 August 2007

Senate Hansard 13 March 2008 (mirror)


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]>