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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Federal budget: access card and privacy related developments

With so much media space required to retail the Federal Government’s budget spending spree, there appears to have been little room for other issues such as the national access card and privacy related matters.

Details about the card – now labelled the Health and Social Services Access Card – are contained in a media release and other information in the Better Service initiatives in the Human Services portfolio budget. The cost is now estimated to be $1.09 billion.

There are no references anywhere in these materials about the card’s potential to assist in combating terrorism. Its now clearly being positioned as an efficiency measure.

There also isn't much about next steps or what we can expect from the project over the next 12 months.

The Daily Telegraph gives the card aspect of the budget a run here.

In the Attorney General’s portfolio the Government has announced $6.5 million over 4 years in additional funding for the Federal Privacy Commission to enable it to respond to calls from business and industry for greater assistance in meeting obligations under the Privacy Act, to improve its complaint handling practices and to respond to Government requests for high level policy advice.

The Privacy Commissioner’s press release claims that additional funding will amount to $8.1 million over 4 years.

Other relevant issues in the budget include additional funding of $6.8 million for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, $28.3 million to roll out a national document verification service.

In the Attorney General’s Security Environment update there is a reference to a new pilot program to examine measures for improving the accuracy of personal information held on existing government databases by identifying inaccurate records and false identities – “in depth consultation is now occurring with Commonwealth and state agencies on the associated legal, privacy and technical issues”.

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