Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Questions without Notice
No, not in 1984. Back in those days I was an active member of the Liberal Party campaigning against the Australia Card, as I would continue to do.
This is a card that will bring Australia into the new millennium. The Greens probably still have a lot of supporters who drive around in Datsun 200Bs, but we believe that the Medicare card needs replacing. We need to ensure that people can get access to their entitlements in a secure environment. We know that the Greens and the Labor Party have defended welfare cheats and welfare fraud day after day in this parliament. They have opposed the Welfare to Work reforms. We are trying to get people off welfare and into work and Labor, through their economic policies and their welfare policies, want to leave them on welfare. We want to ensure that people who are entitled to Medicare get access.
No Australian wants to have a repeat of some of the fraud that has occurred under the existing Medicare card. Maybe Senator Nettle supports it, but only last year a lady—in Victoria, I think it was—produced false identities for 18 phantom children and ripped over $600,000 off the Commonwealth taxpayer. It was fraud against the Commonwealth because the Medicare card does not have the secure environment that is required to protect people’s privacy and to ensure that they get the payments they deserve when they deserve them.
So this is a very important measure. Senator Nettle will see from the legislation introduced in the parliament today that, if anyone sought to use this enhanced Medicare and Centrelink card as an ID card, they would be subject to a five-year jail term or a substantial fine. The legislation we have brought in is actually to ensure that it is not an ID card; it is a Smartcard. (Time expired)