The success of the proposed Access Card rests on how the private sector puts it to use, according to Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty.
Keelty believes the private sector may use the Access Card as a general ID card when its real purpose was to ensure that the "right people" receive access to needed government services such as Medicare.
"If we've got a card that will identify people to access government services, the temptation will be for the private sector to use that in a de facto way as being the pre-eminent identifier.
"We've got to work our way through that because that's not the purpose for which the card was intended," Keelty said in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney last week.
The Access Card will not rely on one single method to identify citizens, according to Keelty. There will be a combination of identifiers including biometric technology.
"Fingerprints probably are the best single identifier for anybody after DNA. DNA on a card is impractical, fingerprinting is more practical. But there's a connotation to asking the entire Australian population to provide fingerprints. Trust us they won't be used for any other purpose."
A balance needed to be struck between what the community would accept for personal accreditation and what needs to be done to produce a secure card, he added.
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.
Meanwhile, Human Services minister and Access Card champion Ian Campbell resigned on Saturday. Prime Minister John Howard is expected to announce Campbell's replacement today.
Note: Another video from Keelty's address can be found here: AFP: India key to ID theft wars