Queensland to get hi-tech microchip licenses

Queensland's old style laminated drivers' licences will be overhauled and replaced with high-tech microchip cards to guard against identity fraud.

Queensland's old style laminated drivers' licences will be overhauled and replaced with high-tech microchip cards to guard against identity fraud.

Ancient driver's licence

Drivers' licence from 1914(Credit: A Bouic Drivers License Back, Barnaby, CC 2.0)

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said 87,000 Queenslanders had their identities stolen in 2007. "The state has been using the old style laminated licences for nearly 25 years," she said. "It's clearly time to change to something that feels more modern and secure."

She said the new licences would cost $96 next year up from $73, for five-year licences. In five years the price will rise to $152.

The card will hold a biometric image rather than the old polaroid camera photos. The biometric image is a 16-point computer picture of a person's face.

"It makes it virtually impossible for someone to go along later and try and get a fake drivers licence in your name," Nolan said.

She said the biometric images will be stored on a computer system but access to the photos would be restricted.

"I understand people some people will have security concerns about the government storing the images," Nolan said. "The [images] will be stored on a secure computer system consistent with Australian and international information protocols.

"Only authorised people will have access."

"Police will have to seek approval from a [Justice of the Peace] or a magistrate if they want to use that information for something other than transport purposes."

The cards will have a special security watermark and hologram features.

"These security measures will combat [identity fraud]... a serious and growing crime," she said.

She said the cards would be future-proofed and potentially emergency next of kin information could be stored on the microchip.

"I think that's something the community would find agreeable," she said.

"But there would be public discussion if we went down that path."

Opposition transport spokeswoman Fiona Simpson dismissed the new licences as "another cash grab".

"This increase comes on top of large registration increases, higher toll fares and the introduction of the fuel tax which has made Queensland fuel prices consistently among the highest in nation," she said.

"Queenslanders are literally being taxed off the roads by this government."

"This is yet another cash grab by a government that keeps spending more than it earns."

The new licences will be rolled out state-wide in 2011 but a trial will begin in Toowoomba later this year.

It's not just licenses that will be getting smarter, but passports too, with the announcement of funding for a centralised passport IT system as part of the federal budget released last night. $100.8 million will be given to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to implement the new system.

As announced in February, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship also received $69.4 million in this year's budget to introduce biometric checks for some international passengers entering Australia. From next year visa applicants may be required to submit fingerprints and facial images, which would be matched against biometric databases.


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