The ALP has has slammed a plans to look at introducing a Medicare Smartcard as the “introduction of an ID card by stealth”.
The move follows reports that Services Minister Joe Hockey intended to present a proposal to cabinet on introducing a national health and welfare smartcard.
In a doorstop interview, Shadow Minister for Public Accountability and Human Services, Kelvin Thomson said the Medicare Smartcard was part of a political pincer movement between Services Minister Joe Hockey and Attorney General Philip Ruddock.
“This is part of a political pincer movement…which involves the introduction of an ID card by stealth,” he said.
“This involves a plan to essentially introduce the ID card without proper public consultation and this measure should not be going to cabinet, without there being some process of public consultation.”
Thomson conceded that smartcard technology had the potential to reduce costs and to produce efficiency benefits, but claimed the public did not know enough about the way in which the Government intended to handle issues such as data security, quality of data, and how the data would be used.
"Joe Hockey has been working on smartcard technology to manage private medical files of Australians,” Thomson said in a follow up media statement.
“Meanwhile, Phillip Ruddock is quietly gathering support for a national identification system. I am concerned that by dividing the work between them, and taking small steps, they are trying to dodge media and public scrutiny with this political pincer movement.
”Minister Hockey said earlier this month that people would only need the card if they were claiming tax payer funded benefits. 'Tax Payer Funded Benefits' is far wider than Medicare refunds and his slip-up shows that the Government intends a lot broader use for these cards than the present Medicare card."
ALP slams Medicare Smartcard proposal
By Staff Writers on Mar 28, 2006 9:18AM