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section heading icon     landmarks

This page considers landmarks in the evolution of national identifier and registration schemes in Australia.

It covers -

It concentrates on registration and data-matching developments, reports and regulatory frameworks.

Context is provided by the chronology of international privacy development here and Australian privacy development - including surveillance legislation - here.

section marker     precursors

1901 Commonwealth of Australia established - privacy not featured in federal Constitution

1914 Commonwealth War Precautions Act 1914

1916 federal War Precautions (Alien Registration) Regulations 1916

1920 War Precautions (Alien Registration) Regulations 1916 replaced by Aliens Registration Act 1920

1926 Aliens Registration Act 1920 suspended

1934 Aliens Registration Act 1920 repealed

1936 federal Income Tax Assessment Act 1936

1938 Passports Act 1938

1939 federal Aliens Registration Act 1939 establishes register of aliens in each state

1939 National Registration Act 1939 establishes national labour register

1942 registration of all Australians over 16 years for identity card under National Security Act 1939

1944 destruction of 1939 national register?

1947 Aliens Act 1947 replaces Aliens Registration Act

1948 federal Nationality & Citizenship Act 1948

1948 National Health Service Number adopted in UK

1950 National Security Act 1939 repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1950

1952 federal National Health Act 1952

1953 federal Taxation Administration Act 1953

1969 Nationality & Citizenship Act 1948 becomes Citizenship Act

1973 becomes Australian Citizenship Act

section marker     beginnings

1973 federal Health Insurance Bill 1973

1975 introduction of Medibank health scheme

1976 Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) directed to report on privacy

1979 ALRC report on Privacy & the Census

1980 OECD Guidelines on Data Privacy Protection & Transborder Data Flows released

1982 Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982

1983 ALRC report on Privacy

1983 Commonwealth Archives Act 1983

1984 Privacy Committee Act in Queensland

1984 Medicare introduced under federal Health Legislation Amendment Act 1983

1984 Adoption Act 1984 in Victoria

1984 Federal Government adopts OECD guidelines

1985 Reform of the Australian Tax System Draft White Paper

1986 Commonwealth Privacy Bill proposed but abandoned

section marker     Australia Card proposal

1986 Australia Card proposed

1986 Qld Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986

1987 Australian Privacy Foundation established

1987 Senate forces abandonment of Australia Card Bill, subject of simultaneous dissolution of federal parliament

1987 ALRC report on Spent Convictions

section marker     federal privacy legislation and the TFN

1988 Senate Standing Committee on Legal & Constitutional Affairs report on Feasibility of a National ID Scheme: The Tax File Number

1988 federal Privacy Act passed, regulating most federal public sector agencies

1988 South Australian Adoption of Children Act 1988

1988 Tasmanian Adoption Act 1988

1988 Tax File Number (TFN) introduced, covered by interim Guidelines under federal Privacy Act

1988 federal Cash Transactions Report Act 1988 (later Financial Transaction Reports Act)

1988 Australian Transaction Reports & Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) established

1988 Data Protection Bill in Western Australia

1988 WA Spent Convictions Act 1988

1989 Privacy Committee established in South Australia

1989 federal Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 1989

1989 NSW Freedom of Information Act 1989

1989 federal Higher Education Funding Act 1989 authorises use of TFN in education sector

1990 NSW Adoption Information Act 1990

1990 Interim Tax File Number Guidelines replaced by Tax File Number Guidelines 1990

1990 Queensland's Privacy Committee Act 1984 amended and extended for a year

1990 implementation of 100 Points identity verification scheme under federal Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988

1990 new Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme

1990 federal Data-matching Program (Assistance & Tax) Act 1990

1990 NSW Adoption Information Act 1990

1991 Privacy Bill introduced in South Australia

1991 NSW Criminal Records Act 1991

1992 amendments relating to credit reporting made to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988

1992 Tax File Guidelines 1990 replaced with Tax File Number Guidelines 1992

1992 WA Spent Convictions Act 1992

1992 NT Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) Act 1992

1993 ACT Adoption Act 1993

section marker     health and state legislation

1994 Australian Privacy Charter Council formed

1994 WA Adoption of Children Act 1994

1994 NSW Privacy & Data Protection Bill introduced but lapses

1995 report on privacy by Commonwealth Parliament House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal & Constitutional Affairs

1995 Standards Australia releases Standard for Personal Privacy Protection in Health Care Information Systems

1996 release of Australian Financial System Inquiry Final Report (Wallis Report)

1996 Federal Attorney-General's Privacy Protection in the Private Sector discussion paper released

1996 establishment of Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR)

1997 public inquiry on privacy issues conducted by Federal Privacy Commissioner

1997 An Advisory Report on the Tax Law Improvement Bill 1996 from Joint Committee on Public Accounts

1997 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family & Community Affairs Health on Line report advocates unique patient identifier and electronic health card

1998 National Principles for the Fair Handling of Personal Information (voluntary code of regulation for the private sector) established by the Federal Privacy Commissioner

1998 ACT Health Records (Privacy & Access) Act came into force

1998 Privacy & Personal Information Act in NSW passes

1998 Data Protection Bill in Victoria (later named the Information Privacy Act)

1999 Senate Legal & Constitutional References Committee's Privacy & the Private Sector report released

1999 House of Representatives Committee on Economics, Finance & Public Administration Inquiry into the Management of Tax File Numbers

1999 National Health Information Management Advisory Council (NHIMAC) releases Health Online: A Health Information Action Plan for Australia

1999 Commonwealth Attorney-General releases draft provisions of the proposed new privacy legislation

1999 Commonwealth Electoral & Referendum Amendment Act (No. 1) 1999 restricts commercial use of electoral roll data

1999 National Electronic Health Records Taskforce established

section marker     extending federal privacy law

2000 first reading of Commonwealth Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill. Legislation is subsequently passed after minor amendments and community criticism

2000 EU submission to House of Representatives Committee indicates that Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill would not meet EU's test of "adequacy"

2000 National Electronic Health Records Taskforce releases A Health Information Network for Australia report

2000 Information Privacy Act in Victoria passed

2000 Information Privacy Act in Queensland lapses

2000 federal MediConnect Project

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner releases draft code development guidelines

2001 Health Records Act in Victoria passed

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner announces research projects on Privacy & the Community and on Privacy, Business & Government

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner releases draft NPP and draft Health Privacy guidelines

2001 Tasmania and Western Australia commence drafting privacy legislation

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner releases consultation paper on Privacy Issues in the Use of Public Key Infrastructure for Individuals

2001 National Health & Medical Research Council releases draft s95A guidelines

2001 Information Privacy Act in Victoria comes into effect

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner begins to approve industry codes under s95A

2001 new federal regime comes into effect

2002 Health Records Act in Victoria comes into effect

2002 new federal regime provisions cover many SMEs

2003 Grosse v Purvis ruling by Qld District Court is first Australian case where claimant successfully sues for tort of privacy?

2004 TICA found to have breached federal Privacy Act

2004 federal Surveillance Devices Act

section marker icon     identifiers after 9/11

2003 Aviation Security Identification Card introduced

2004 launch of Medicare smart card

2004 Maritime Security Identification Card introduced

2005 restructuring of MediConnect as HealthConnect

2005 federal Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances of the Immigration Detention of Cornelia Rau

2005 Queensland Premier calls for Australia Card II

section marker icon     an Australia Card Lite?

2006 Prime Minister announces that federal government will not proceed with national identity card but will roll out 'access card' for health and welfare services

2006 release of briefing and discussion documents about Access Card

2007 Access Card legislation introduced in Parliament

2007 incoming ALP government announces closure of Office of the Access Card and abandonment of Access Card


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