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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 886


Mr SIMMONS —Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to claims made at the weekend that the Government has a so-called `sinister secret strategy' to extend the uses of the Australia Card after its introduction? Is it a fact that the Government has such a policy?


Dr BLEWETT —The Government has, of course, no such policy. The remarks are simply the result of the fevered and rather desperate imagination of honourable members opposite, because they in fact have no alternative whatsoever to the Australia Card. Indeed, of course, the Government's position has been clear to the rest of the Australian people, if not to the Opposition, for the last five months.

The Bill, which will come before the House, the Parliament and the Australian people, makes it quite clear that only in three areas will the Australia Card be applicable; that is, in relation to social security, tax and Medicare. Indeed, when these fantasies are produced by the Opposition we should remember that those three areas were the areas defined by the Joint Select Committee on an Australia Card. It recommended the range which the Bill should cover and we accepted those views as we accepted most of the ideas from the Select Committee.

The only question that the Parliament and the people of Australia have to ask is: Why do we get these nonsensical views paraded by the Opposition? The answer to that is the Opposition has simply no policy in relation to welfare fraud, no policy in relation to tax evasion and no policy in relation to illegal immigration.

My colleague the Minister for Social Security has taken a number of important steps to deal with fraud in the welfare area-more than were ever tackled by the Fraser Government-yet each of those steps would be facilitated by an effective identity system in this country. Each of those steps would have had more effect, and would be more effective, if we had a proper identification system in this country. My colleague the Treasurer has taken major steps through the Australian Taxation Office-more than were ever taken by the Fraser Government-to deal with the problems of tax evasion and tax fraud. Again, each of the steps that the Treasurer has taken would be more effective and would be facilitated by an effective identity system in this country. It is the single most potent weapon one could have for dealing with these problems that face government. The Opposition has no answer to any of those problems.