Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023 - Second Reading

Digital Id Bill 2024

Digital Id (Transitional And Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023

Second Reading

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (11:03): The Albanese government is not just providing for the Australia of today but also securing the Australia of the future. The Digital ID Bill will deliver a legislative framework for a secure, centralised network of digital identification that not only is going to be more convenient for everyday use but is going to protect millions of Australians from data breaches that leave them vulnerable.

This legislation is significant reform that supports individuals, businesses and governments, and creates opportunities for economic growth. It's an approach for identification which encourages security, contrary to what we're hearing from those opposite, who would really like us to live in a romantic, rose-coloured, revisionist, rear-mirror view of the world where nothing ever has to change and where it's all going to be okay. The member for New England said that he was concerned about having cameras in the bathroom and in the bedroom. I can assure the member for New England that is not something that we want, especially not of him—or from anyone else for that matter. This legislation is important, because individuals will be able to prove who they are with their physical documentation, once, and then a digital representation will be able to be used. Businesses will be able to verify their customers with greater ease. This bill will deliver for Australians, providing privacy and security, and will strengthen policies and frameworks already established and accepted within the Australian public.

I really would like to start with some myth-busting, after listening to the member for New England. In my electorate of Paterson, where 20 per cent of the population is aged over 65, there are some concerns that physical IDs may become invalid. There is some fearmongering going on and, quite frankly, some pedalling of absolute nonsense. People are being told that physical IDs won't be in existence anymore and that everyone will be forced to go digital. It's simply not true. Digital ID is completely voluntary. The Albanese Labor government is committed to giving Australians a choice, and this is no different. The digital ID will also be completely free to all individuals. There will be no costs and no hidden fees.

There are also some who are suggesting that the digital ID exposes our personal information or destroys our sense of privacy. Again, the opposite is true. Digital ID enhances our privacy. I'll give an example: let's say a group of friends go out to celebrate an 18th birthday. We've all got young people in our lives and we know that they're all very keen to get to the pub for a drink when they turn 18. They go to the pub and they buy a round of beer and they hand over their physical ID. Now the bartender knows that they are of age—which is a good thing—but they have also shown their full home address and their organ donor status. This information is completely irrelevant when you're buying a round of beers for your mate's 18th. With digital ID we'll be able to limit what sort of information someone can see in that scenario, without oversharing information. I think that's particularly important for young people, particularly when they're going out to pubs and clubs and may not want to divulge their address to someone they have to show their ID to for security.

What about that 100-point ID verification system? We've all been there and done that before—digging out passports and water bills and the like to make it to 100 points. Is the digital ID another layer of bureaucracy and government overreach? That's what we're told by those opposite. Of course it's not. The digital ID system allows people to undergo verification once, and then to use that ID over and over again across government and business services, without the services needing to store or file extra copies of their documents. I think that's a good thing. I don't want to have to dig out my birth certificate or my passport and give copies of those to numerous organisations. You'll be able to verify yourself once using your documentation and then, once your digital identity is established, that's what you'll use. It is going to be so much more secure and so much more convenient for people, rather than having to fetch around for all of these documents every time they want to go for a home loan or do these things.

Some of these myths have really got no place. Another myth is that some are saying that the digital ID is risky because no-one has done it before, and yet there are innovative systems in countries across the world, including in some strong democratic nations like Singapore, Denmark and the Netherlands, who use systems like ours. In Denmark, in particular, over 90 per cent of the population use digital ID. Those good folk in Denmark are pretty switched on, especially with stuff like this, and I don't think that 90 per cent of their population would be voluntarily using it if they didn't think it was up to speed. In fact, private companies like Mastercard are already offering digital ID services to individuals and businesses.

Some are saying that the digital ID system will be going unregulated—that's another myth—allowing personal data to be sold off and exploited. This is just completely false. Our legislation will introduce an appointed regulatory body independent of government that will approve and accredit services, and then ensure the services comply with the legislation and keep people's information safe. The Australian Digital ID Regulator is vital for a fair, transparent and compliant system.

This bill is not being rushed, and it is not being moved without thoughtful consideration on how we implement it. We are putting in the hard yards now and we are getting this right. I'm proud to be part of a government that is delivering for every Australian. Whether you're a student, a senior, a small-business owner or anyone in between, the digital ID is a decision for you to streamline how you use your ID and how you choose to be part of a digital future. We want to equip Australians to be part of a digital future.

This is coming. There is no point hiding under the bed covers like the member for New England projected on to all of us, saying: 'No, no, we don't want any of this. We don't want them coming for you.' What nonsense! No-one is coming for anyone. People are able to voluntarily give their own information, set up a digital ID and walk confidently into a digital world that they need to be armed and identified for—and, quite frankly, they want to be. They want to embrace technology. If it were up to the member for New England, we'd all stilling walking around with handheld lines and there'd be no mobile phones. Honestly, the troglodytes live under the bridges!

Today I want to talk to you about the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act as well. It is very important that this bill be passed. It's something that we have to have. We just have to have the laws to go with the new technologies in our world. Here's another example: imagine you're applying for a government service and you need to prove that you're you. That's where the digital ID will come in handy. It's like a virtual version of your drivers licence or passport that you can use online. So much of our lives is happening on the internet. We need to make sure that these digital IDs are super secure, and that's where the powers act comes into play. The act is about making sure digital IDs are safe, easy to use and trustworthy, and it does a few things. There will be an accreditation scheme—this is like a stamp of approval for companies that provide digital ID services. The act makes it mandatory for these companies to meet strict standards to protect your privacy and security. Regarding expanding digital ID use, the act wants to make digital IDs more widespread so you can use them not just for government transactions but also for other online activities like shopping or banking. Privacy protections are so important. Your privacy really matters, and it matters ever so much more online. The powers act adds extra layers of protection to make sure your personal information stays safe when using digital ID. Regulation and oversight is another important thing. There are watchdogs in place, like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to make sure people follow the rules and keep digital IDs reliable.

Why does any of this really matter? Well, it is really a big deal. We are living in an ever more digital world, and we must have laws that keep up with the way that the world and technology are changing. Digital IDs will make life easier. There will be no more digging out your physical documents, no more raking around in the back of the wardrobe for your birth certificate and trying to sticky-tape it together. You'll be able to prove who you are online. There will be more security measures in place. You'll feel safer knowing your personal info is better protected from hackers and scammers and, believe it or not, there will be a boost to the economy from making digital ID a thing. It will make online transactions smoother, more efficient and more secure. Your data is valuable. The powers act aims to ensure your privacy is respected, giving you more control over how your information is used.

So, what happens now? Well, the powers act is just the beginning—it sets the groundwork for a safer and more reliable digital world—but there is still more work to be done to put everything into action. As technology evolves and our online lives continue to grow, it's crucial to have laws like the powers act in place to keep up with the changes and protect us all. And that's what this government is doing. If we weren't passing legislation like this, we would be absolutely remiss. We would just not be up to our duty of governing. We have to have laws that protect people in an ever-changing world. Remember: your digital identity is just as important as your real-life identity. So we need to keep an eye on how the world is changing, and we need to have laws that fit those changes.

You might really be wondering what all this digital ID stuff is about. I have heard people say that. They say, 'Meryl, what's all this ID stuff?' It is just really important that people have an understanding that it is about digital identity. It is like a virtual passport or a virtual driver's licence for the internet. And that is so important. It will mean safer online transactions and, when you're shopping online or accessing government services, the digital ID will be more secure, protecting your personal information from cyberthreats. Imagine not having to stand in long lines or fill out tonnes of paperwork every time you need to access a government service. Wouldn't that be refreshing! Well, that's the beauty of digital IDs. They will make it easier to prove who you are online and also in person, saving you time and a lot of hassle, quite frankly.

Your privacy does matter. The Digital ID Bill includes measures to ensure that your personal information is protected online so you can feel more confident, knowing that your data is in safe hands, and it will boost the economy by streamlining online transactions and making it easier for businesses to verify your identity. So whether you're a student applying for government assistance or a small-business owner filling in their taxes online, Digital ID Bill is there to make your online experience safer, smoother and more convenient.

One of the things about this piece of legislation that is ever present in my mind is that we hear constantly: 'We need to cut red tape. We need to make things easier for people, for businesses. Things should be more streamlined.' I've spent most of my adult life hearing that—'Cut red tape, cut red tape'—and we're actually doing this with this bill. This is a form of red-tape cutting, yet I'm hearing, often from proponents opposite—who I've heard the most over the years proclaiming that red tape should be cut—that somehow, now, this is not a good thing, this is not where we should be taking the Australian people and this is not how we should be setting up the Australian economy. The thing that would be absolutely remiss of us is not to set up the Australian economy and protect the Australian people. There is a very lively, vibrant digital world out there. If we do not have the laws enveloping our country to make it better, to put it on the right footing for this ever-changing world, then we are not the right government for the time. That is the thing: this is not about shrinking away from the world that is ever changing, this is about equipping ourselves well and providing ourselves with the tools that we need to be bold, confident and productive in an ever-changing world. This government is providing that for Australians. It will make life simpler.

I know that for those opposite change is scary and technology is a thing of bewilderment. Well, we are embracing it. We are taking the Australian people forward with us, and we are saying that we want to be on the front foot and doing this for a vibrant, secure and technologically savvy Australia.

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