Access Card tenders continue despite debate

Tender negotiations for the AU$1.09 billion Access Card will continue despite the government being forced to review the card's legislation following a Senate Committee report.

Tender negotiations for the AU$1.09 billion Access Card will continue despite the government being forced to review the card's legislation following a Senate Committee report.

The Senate's Finance and Public Administration Committee has advised in a report that the card, in its present form, would be used as an identity card.

The government will redraft its legislation after meeting more stakeholders over the next few weeks. A spokesperson for the recently-appointed Human Services minister Chris Ellison could not confirm the groups which the government would hold discussions with.

Despite the government accepting recommendations to review the proposed legislation, a spokesperson for the Office of Access Card said the tendering process would continue as normal.

"The government has had a strong response to the two RFTs, that have now closed, and is continuing with the evaluation of both," she said.

Chairman of the committee Liberal Senator Brett Mason has said many groups are concerned about the proposed photograph on the card.

The disputed photograph has been one of the card materials included in the requests for tender issued. The RFTs are for a prime contractor to produce the card and its management system, and for a systems integrator.

Ellison said in statement yesterday he was confident the concerns raised by the Senate inquiry could be addressed. "The government remains committed to having the legislation passed this year," he said.

Fears the Access Card could develop into a form of identity checking have dogged the project since its inception. The Access Card was created to replace 17 health and social service cards, including the Medicare card, as a way of reducing fraud against the health system. The card will contain personal data such as name, address, and concession status on a microchip.

Australian Federal Police boss Mick Keelty this month outlined his concerns with the Access Card. Keelty said the private sector would be tempted to use the card as an identifier, which is not its purpose.

The AFP declined to comment on yesterday's developments.

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