Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Vale The Access Card – Dead as a Dodo!

It has been a big few weeks on the Access Card front.

First we had the following from the Federal Privacy Commissioner.

Media release: Access Card Bill makes progress in promoting privacy, says Privacy Commissioner


The Privacy Commissioner, Karen Curtis, has acknowledged the progress made with the second public exposure draft of the Human Services (Enhanced Service Delivery) Bill 2007, in advancing privacy protections for the Government's proposed Access Card.

"While there are still a number of steps that can be taken to enhance the Access Card's privacy safeguards, the Bill provides protections for confidentiality and information integrity which usefully adds to what was in the first Bill," Ms Curtis said.

In a submission to the Department of Human Services, Ms Curtis recommended additional privacy safeguards to supplement the Bill, including:

  • to advance the object of the Bill that the card should not become an ID card, the photograph on the card surface should be made optional;
  • making the Bill's Administration Rules detailed and clear in how they affect information handling;
  • creating civil remedies to allow individuals to seek redress where Access Card information is mishandled; and
  • having a regular statutory review mechanism for the card.

Ms Curtis welcomed the following aspects of the Bill:

  • the oversight mechanisms it proposes, including review and appeals processes, mandatory consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, Parliamentary scrutiny of Administration Rules, and annual reporting requirements;
  • its listing of the Bill's objects and the intention that the Act should be interpreted to limit impacts on privacy;
  • its provisions on confidentiality, and the combination of offences and infringement notices; and
  • the limits it sets on the disclosure of protected information, such as for law enforcement purposes.

----- End Release

In summary her view was “good try – but really not good enough”.

Then we had:


Smartcard on hold till next year

Patricia Karvelas | August 24, 2007

PLANS for a national smartcard have been postponed for at least a year with the Government admitting the deadline for its introduction was unrealistic.

The proposal for one-card access to welfare payments has been dogged by controversy since it was raised in 2003, with opponents claiming it is an underhand method of introducing a national identification system.

Despite government hopes of introducing a bill this year, Human Services Minister Chris Ellison yesterday said public support was essential if the $1.1billion scheme was to succeed, and there was no way he would put forward legislation before 2008.

….. (see full article at URL above)

This is essentially an admission that it was all getting much too hard and that public concern was such that the Access Card needed to be neutralised as a political problem in the light of the looming election.

Then we had:


Labor pledges to kill off Access Card

Annabel Stafford
August 29, 2007

THE $1.1 billion Access Card could soon be dead, with the Labor Party confirming it would kill off the proposal if it won this year's election.

Coming after the Federal Government last week confirmed it would put off introducing legislation for the Access Card until after the election, Labor has confirmed a Rudd government would scrap the idea.

"As far as we're concerned, (the Access Card) is dead," Labor human services spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said.

….. (see full article at URL above)

Interesting that the small target approach Opposition chooses this issue to make a stand. Tells you the internal polling is suggesting that this is not a winner for the present Government.

Last we have today some accounting for the Access Card so far!


Smartcard costs hit $52 million

Karen Dearne | September 04, 2007

SPENDING on the federal Government's mooted welfare smartcard has reached $52 million, despite uncertainty over whether the $1.1 billion program will proceed.

New contracts worth nearly $10 million have been signed by the Department of Human Services since June, with most due for completion well before the end of this year.

This may signal a slowdown of work, pending the outcome of the federal election.

In June, Human Services Minister Chris Ellison effectively put the controversial Access Card on ice, as opponents claimed it would become a national identity card.

The project's lead adviser, Booz Allen Hamilton, collected $30.5 million in fees during the past financial year, including $5 million for the months of May and June, and a slimmer $5.2 million for the current four months to October 26.

….. (see the rest of the breakdown at the Australian IT Site above)

What to do? Really that is quite easy.

Whoever wins the election needs to undertake a Strategic Review of Electronic Identity Management in Australia – reviewing all the rapidly proliferating set of initiatives – from the Access Card to the NEHTA UHI and the Document Verification Service and plan for one decent reliable fit for purpose system.

It would not be an easy task – but it could likely save billions of dollars if done well over the next few years.



Anonymous said...

In your comments last January on NEHTA’s ‘Privacy Blueprint’ documents (UHI, IHI and IPI) you indicated that NEHTA seemed to be ignoring the Access Card. You also wondered how NEHTA could plan to do anything other than adopt the Access Card identifier.

Well. What now? Maybe NEHTA was more farsighted than you give them credit for! Maybe?

Dr David G More MB PhD said...


My last few paragraphs say what I think is needed - to sort out e-Identity strategically and use the optimal approach(es) as and where appropriate. I simply don't see it makes sense to have multiple different systems doing essentially the same thing unless there are compelling reasons to have them separate. A properly designed national approach would flush out all those issues and optimize cost and utility.

I agree with hindsight, and the incompetence of the Access Card management in not taking notice of Prof Fels and Ms Curtis, we now maybe need an alternative ID system. Whether NEHTA can actually deliver is, of course, an open question.

Some of the contentious issues around the Access Card also exist around the UHI, don't forget.