This page considers what will be on the 2007 'smartcard'
and who might gain a card.
It covers -
A focus of anxieties about the Card is that it will house
an electronic copy of a range of government files regarding
the individual, eg a copy of their tax records and a copy
of medical records.
That is not the case. The Card (and the associated Register)
is in essence metadata
that associates the individual with discrete official
databases that are maintained by separate agencies. It
is a piece of plastic embodies identifiers (the individual's
name, address, birthdate and a card number) rather than holding
a copy of the records on those databases.
It is envisaged that the access card will be a 'smartcard'
(ie with an an embedded microchip that "will store
information in a secure and safe manner") similar
in size and shape to a standard credit card.
The card will initially be known as the Health & Social
Services Access Card, although there will be scope for
the Minister to determine a different name for the access
card and a symbol for the card. It will be an offence
for a person to make unauthorised use of the card name/s
The expectation is that an individual's access card will
remain in force for the period that is set out on the
card (a maximum period of 10 years). Expiry dates on cards
will be staggered for logistical administrative purposes.
The shape of the Access Card Register and the registration
(enrolment) process are discussed in the following page
of this profile. There is a discussion of particular databases
and identifiers (such as the TFN) later in this profile
and in more detailed notes elsewhere
on this site.
In order to be eligible to be registered, an individual
must be eligible or qualified for a 'Commonwealth benefit'.
An individual who is not eligible or qualified for a Commonwealth
benefit will not be entitled to be registered. It important
to note that an eligible individual does not need to be
currently receiving a Commonwealth benefit. It is sufficient
if the person is eligible or qualified for any Commonwealth
benefit, for example satisfies the current eligibility
requirements for Medicare.
The card - and the Register described in the following
page of this profile - will thus cover most Australians.
Individual cards will typically be provided to adults
(minors will appear on the parent's card) but in exceptional
circumstances may be provided to people under 18 years
of age. Children will need to be registered in order for
parents to obtain Commonwealth benefits in respect of
The draft legislation notes that Registration will occur
when the Secretary enters an applicant's name on the Register,
along with the date of effect of registration. That 'event'
is significant because the Government that from 2010 an
access card will be necessary for a person to be able to obtain relevant Commonwealth
benefits. The card will be taken to be issued (with ownership
vesting in the individual) at the time it is sent to the
individual or is collected by individual.
Information on an individual's access card will comprise
appears on the surface of the card (ie discernable without
the aid of an electronic device)
that is held in the chip within the card, with discrete
'personal' and 'Commonwealth' information
on the surface will include
access card symbol and name
specific card number (a number that uniquely identifies
the card expiry date
individual's digitised signature
surface might also feature the individual's date of birth
(if so requested by that person), DVA information (eg
a special rate of pension under the Veterans' Entitlements
Act 1986) and the word 'blind' for Blind disability
support pensioners (if so requested by the individual).
The chip will comprise a 'card owner's area' (in which
the individual will be able to include any information,
subject to legal and technical constraints) and the 'Commonwealth's
It is envisaged that the card owner's area might be used
for emergency contact details and information such as
organ donor status.
The Commonwealth information (ie used by the national
government and its agents) will comprise -
PIN or password
about any benefit cards held by the individual
Health Care Card number
status (ie whether the individual has been identified
on a 'full' or 'interim' basis
required by legislation (eg any statement required by
the Privacy Act 1988 or Freedom of Information
information such as audit logs and the serial number
of the chip.