January 16, 2017 -
A new plan by Australian conservative political party One Nation is calling for a fingerprint-enabled national ID card for all citizens in an effort to curb welfare fraud, according to a report by The Courier Mail.
Pauline Hanson, the leader of One Nation, is trying to persuade the Turnbull government to adopt the policy, which she says is a necessary tool to eliminate welfare overpayments and fraud.
Senator Hanson said the voluntary biometric-enabled card would be essential if citizens wanted to continue receiving their share, family tax benefit or child care payments.
The proposed plan comes as the Australian government works towards recouping $4 billion incorrectly paid to welfare recipients over the past seven years.
Though Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not completely ruled out the proposed policy, he is currently considering other measures, a spokesperson for Turnbull said.
“The government is looking at ways it can increase the integrity of the system through stronger forms of identification, including through the Digital Transformation Agency,’’ said the spokesperson.
The government is looking into implementing new technology that would allow agencies, such as Centrelink and the tax office to update financial details in real time, which would prevent overpayments or some payments by registering a recipient’s ineligibility.
However, Senator Hanson questioned why Australians would be required to show identification to register for a mobile phone plan but not for welfare receipts.
“There’s a lot of aliases out there and a lot of people are simply using their relatives’ Medicare cards when they come to Australia and that gets billed to the taxpayer,’’ Senator Hanson said. “It’s common sense. People should need ID if they want to access welfare.”
Former prime minister Bob Hawke made repeated attempts to bring in an Australia Card in order to reduce welfare fraud and tax avoidance.