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Wave goodbye to another set of freedoms with the new Digital Id

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 22 April 2024

"Papers please" used to be the ostinato of totalitarian systems, at least in the movies.

With the passing of the government's Digital ID bills, Australians will have to become used to the digital equivalent-so what does that say about present-day Australia? Story continues below advertisement AD

A few things have surprised me over the last few years, not the least the way the famous Aussie spirit of insubordination has been subsumed into a goody-two-shoes compliance with whatever capricious orders the authorities made.


I can't imagine our forebears accepting lockdowns and forced vaccinations, and I certainly couldn't see them accepting an identity card linking not just government accounts but private sector ones as well.

While the first proposition is an assertion based on a gut feeling, the second is very much based on fact.

Remember the Australia Card?

In 1984, the Hawke Labor government introduced the Australia Card, and for the next three years, the government and opposition parties tussled over it to the extent that it triggered a double-dissolution election in 1987.

Objections didn't just come from the federal Opposition either.

Queensland Labor Senator George Georges resigned from the governing party in 1986 over the issue, and in the lower house, Labor backbencher Lewis Kent said:

"Nothing can be more un-Australian than the need to provide one's identity on the call of an official, be it a policeman or a bureaucrat. It would be more appropriate for the proposed card to be called a Hitlercard or Stalin-card."


As a result, while the government won the 1987 election, and had the numbers to push the card through, instead, it withdrew the card when a technicality was found that could have affected its operation. One senses this was a relief.

Individual freedom chipped away, one law at a time

Yet, apart from a few senators this time there has been little outcry in response to the Albanese government's Digital ID, although the Liberal-National Opposition did vote against it.

A form of this ID was recommended by the Murray Inquiry into the Financial System in 2014, but the committee was careful to avoid recommending a full-blown government-issued identity card because of the Australia Card debacle.

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This article was first puhlished by the Epoch Times.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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