Saturday, July 16, 2005

National Identification Card

The national ID card is back on the political agenda in Australia, to counter the threat of international terrorism. But the debate about the national identification system is still in its infancy.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, set the ball rolling when he publicly stated that he would “Never say never” to the idea of a national ID card for all Australians. But he cautioned against “knee-jerk” reactions to the potential terrorist threat in the country.

One thing is certain though, the national security consideration has made the “Australia Card” or the creation of some form of electronic individual identification system a much more attractive proposition now than it was in the 1980s when the idea was first suggested by the Hawke Labour government.

Yet, in 1987, it was Mr. Howard who, as an opposition leader, campaigned against the “Australia card” . Today, he is the champion of a national ID card system. The London bomb blasts have, definitely, changed everything; reviving plans for a broader rethink of the national security question in Australia.

The most persuasive argument, at the moment, is that the national ID card will aid the campaign against terrorism. It may even help prevent unlawful detention of refugees and asylum-seekers. The jury is still out on the subject! And civil liberties groups have condemned the scheme.

Nevertheless, on the related issue of national security, the Prime Minister believes anyone who does not think that Australia is at risk from suicide bombers is complacent and foolish.

Thus, every measure that makes it harder for terrorists to mask their plans and hide their identities continues to frame the debate about the need for a national ID card in Australia.
Post a Comment