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Access Card chief falls on sword

Just over a month into the job, Human Services minister and Access Card champion Ian Campbell resigned on Saturday after being caught in Brian Burke's influential tentacles.
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Written by Fran Foo on

Just over a month into the job, Human Services minister and Access Card champion Ian Campbell resigned on Saturday after being caught in Brian Burke's influential tentacles.

Prime Minister John Howard is expected to announce Campbell's replacement on Monday. He is still listed as the minister in-charge on the Human Services Department Web site.

Access Card chief falls on sword: Ian Campbell
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Burke, a convicted criminal and former premier of Western Australia, is currently at the centre of a corruption probe in the state. Campbell cited a meeting with him as the reason for walking. So far, three state Labor ministers have been sacked for links to Burke.

Campbell is responsible for presenting the controversial Access Card Bill to Parliament in early February.

The card -- set to become commonplace by 2010 -- will replace 17 health and social service cards, including the Medicare card, and will contain personal data such as name, address, and concession status on a chip.

The government has claimed the card is not an identity card since anyone that demands it for identification purposes could face a five-year jail term. But privacy advocates have pointed out similarities between the Access Card proposal and the failed Australia Card project.

Campbell took over the Human Services portfolio from Joe Hockey in January's Cabinet reshuffle.

Also in late January, the second request for tender was issued for a prime contractor to produce and manage the AU$1 billion health and social services access card project.

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