National ID proposal up for review

Jan. 11, 2006 at 8:48 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Australia's attorney general may appoint a retired judge or senior official to review a proposal for a national identity card.

"The government has been considering who would be an appropriate person to head a review of the national ID card, and there is ongoing discussion on the terms of reference of such a review," a spokeswoman for Attorney General Philip Ruddock said. "This review would be conducted independently of government."

The proposal by the government of Prime Minister John Howard for a national identity card has stirred controversy in the country, with unease being expressed over issues of privacy as well as government priorities in the war on terror.

The Australian newspaper quoted the opposition Labor Party's spokesman on homeland security measures, Arch Beavis, as saying the proposal was a "red herring" to divert attention from government security failures. In addition, he said, it would cost too much money to implement an ID card with biometric data and then obtain machines to read them.

The Howard government, in the wake of last July's London bombings and terror attacks in Indonesia targeting Australians, has increased security measures in the country. Raids in the country's two largest cities late last year netted more than a dozen Islamist militants suspected of planning terror attacks.

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