Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Beattie puts forward case for Australia Card -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Beattie puts forward case for Australia Card

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has reopened the Australia Card debate - and this time, with the
support of the Prime Minister. Mr Beattie says he thinks an ID system is necessary in dealing with
international terrorism.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And now to our program guest, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, who has reopened
the Australia Card debate, and this time, with the support of the PM. Premier, good morning.

PETER BEATTIE, QUEENSLAND PREMIER: Good morning, Barrie.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Now that the Prime Minister has at least embraced a debate on an ID card, what are
the odds now that it might happen?

PETER BEATTIE: Well, of course that's up to all our Federal parliamentary colleagues on both sides
of the House. But Barrie I think the world has changed since the Australia Card debate took place
in the Hawke days. We've had international terrorism, September 11 changed the world frankly. In
addition to that I think technology has changed. For example, people are used to using EFTPOS, ID
is required to get any form of passport, you've got to prove it to open a bank card or get a bank
account opened. I just think if we're going to deal with international terrorism Barrie frankly
we've got to have an ID system that actually works. In addition to that it will have other benefits
as well.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But of course in 1987 when it was put up by Bob Hawke the big brother mentality
took over quickly?

PETER BEATTIE: But then September 11 came along and I think that's changed how we think. I'd rather
have an ID card and have a system which actually protects us in a democracy than end up being dead.
The real difficulty is that as you were just discussing with Paul Kelly, in Britain often the
terrorism comes from within and the world has changed. I was in the United States on a trade
mission recently and I have a diplomatic passport yet I had to be fingerprinted on the way in. I
wasn't worried about it. Frankly I'd rather do that and feel secure in travel. The other thing
about it, too, is we've had the problems with Cornelia Rau and the Alvarez case. Frankly, one of
the other issues we need in this country is a national missing persons system and that was one of
the recommendations that came out of Palmer. Now a national ID system will have benefits in that.
But see Barrie the arguments that existed in 1987 as far as I'm concerned have gone. People now,
for example, from time to time have their identity stolen. That is, people have their credit card
stolen and someone then goes off, establishes their identity and steals a lot of their money. Now I
think an ID card system will work. One of my children had to apply for an allowance the other day
and they needed to take in whatever it is 120 points to prove his identity. Now it went on and on
and on and on like "Blue Hills". Now if there was a national ID card then that wouldn't be a
problem. Yes, of course, you need to build in safeguards, I know that.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But it's true, though, that when you got into trouble over electoral fraud in 2000
you suggested an ID card back then to wipe out electoral fraud - now you've got problems with
unlawful detention, again the solution an ID card. It looks like another smokescreen?

PETER BEATTIE: Not to me it doesn't. Why don't we have it? I suggested a number of those things in
the past and this debate has been around since 1987 and it simply won't go away and as I said, if
you consider just some of the issues I've talked about - what happened with Cornelia Rau, for
example? What's happening in terrorism, I think as well as identity theft, all those things can in
my view be dealt with in part at least with having a national ID card system. We all have a tax
file number anyway and if anybody thinks there aren't obviously things like credit checks on their
ability when they come to borrow money, they're kidding themselves. An ID card system - if somebody
has nothing to hide it's not a problem. Yes we need safeguards, people need to access their records
to check what's kept on them is accurate and fair. A lot of the opposition to the ID card has
disappeared and I don't think this is the same climate as it was in 1987. As far as I'm concerned
this is about commonsense, national security. One of the things we discussed Barrie at a recent
COAG meeting was a national smart card. Now most States are looking at it, we are. By smart card I
mean, I'd love to have a card which means that I can use it to access EFTPOS, ATM. I can use it for
credit, to pay for a train, bus, ferry the whole lot. Now if you can have one card to do that -
that removes a lot of the cumbersome problems people have managing their finances. That's the way
the world is going, why not have that?

BARRIE CASSIDY: When you first put up the proposal for smart card I seem to remember Chris Puplick
from the Privacy Foundation saying, "That's Queensland, terrible today, appalling tomorrow."

PETER BEATTIE: But he's unrealistic. The reality is he doesn't live in the real world if he
actually believes that. The point I was saying Barrie is this is actually being looked at
nationally. At the last COAG meeting we talked about developing a national smart card. This is
where the world is going. With the development of technology, access to the Net, people buying
goods over the Net, all those sorts of things, that is where we are going. We either face up to the
reality of this and we use a national ID card system as part of the smart card system Barrie or we
just delude ourselves. You could put information on there about where to contact the next of kin if
you're involved in an accident of some kind. This is just where the world is going. We can deny it
and kid ourselves and have airy-fairy arguments about it or face up to the reality.

BARRIE CASSIDY: John Howard would argue that on industrial relations the world is changing, too,
and workers ought to change with that. You're backing the ACTU. What's your focus? What
particularly concerns you about it?

PETER BEATTIE: Oh basically this. We have in Queensland - and I'm looking at it from my State's
point of view Barrie - we have the lowest strike rate in Australia. We've got the highest growth
rate in Australia and we have got and have had for some time either the lowest or second lowest
level of unemployment. Now the PM says, "OK, what we need to do is change industrial relations to
have lower strikes. " Well we have the lowest. He says we need to change industrial relations to
encourage growth. We're the growth State in Australia. Why? Because of a whole lot of factors but
in part because we have a State industrial system that can intervene and solve disputes. Why do I
want a national system, when you look at it and see how it applies- where the strike rate is three
times what we have in Queensland? I just say to the PM, all the things you say you want for
Australia you have in Queensland and we have a State-based system. Why do you want to wreck a
system that delivers the goods? From my point of view I don't want the national strike rate. I
don't want to lower Queensland's standards down to the national standard. It's that simple.

BARRIE CASSIDY: I want to ask you about a dinner in Bundaberg on Wednesday night when journalists
were covering the Dr Death inquiry and they held a mock awards ceremony. You were obviously angry
with that, but the inquiry chief Tony Morris says it's a storm in a tea cup?

PETER BEATTIE: He's entitled to that view. I appointed Tony Morris, my government did, and I think
he's fiercely independent and I have a lot of respect for him. These people in Bundaberg have been
to hell and back. When you have an inquiry in a community like that you've got journalists covering
the inquiry every day, you've got the victims of it. You get the Stockholm effect. I think that's
what happened and I think regrettably when you have a dinner and you have a party where you're
handing out awards naming one of the victims which was basically the Ian Fleming, "Show me your
wound award," that's pretty tacky. And what happens in these things - you know what's criticising
the media is like, of course, they all get around and support one another. The culture is no
different to anywhere else, Barrie. I had to say what I said. I just think it was tacky, it was in
poor taste and I don't think it does anything to behove or lift the standard of journalism. My view
is I think the journalists involved shouldn't cover the inquiry from now on.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But Mr Morris said the complaints made to you were part of a campaign by Queensland
Health, health bureaucrats who want to undermine his inquiry. Now that's not a storm in a tea cup.
The head of the inquiry thinks bureaucrats want to undermine him?

PETER BEATTIE: I know. I understand his view about that. I was presented from 11 affidavits from 11
people from Queensland health who were there. I wrote to the CMC head about it, that's our Crime
and Misconduct Commission here, it's a bit like ICAC in NSW. They indicated there was no
jurisdiction. Interestingly one of their officers who was there afterwards raised the matter with
his superior because he thought some of it was inappropriate. I only released that yesterday. While
there's no jurisdiction for the CMC to do anything about it, one of the people who was there just
thought the whole thing wasn't terribly appropriate. That was an independent person. I stand by
what I said.

BARRIE CASSIDY: My point is if he believes it to be true that bureaucrats are trying to undermine
him that's a worry in itself. Does that perception compromise his deliberations?

PETER BEATTIE: No, it won't because the Government will fully support him and I made it clear to
any bureaucrat regardless of what the department are in or who they are that they are not only
subject to the inquiry that we'll get to the bottom of it. Barrie I didn't establish this royal
commission for a Sunday picnic, I established it because there was a lot of pain for the people of
Bundaberg. I'm determined to come up with a better system for overseas-trained doctors. And as the
former head of the AMA, Bill Glasson, said this could have happened anywhere in Australia, not just
Queensland. We have a doctor shortage in this country. We are determined to do what we can to train
more Australian doctors. And if we're really going to solve some of these problems in health, we
can't do it just alone. Forget about worrying about the bureaucrats, it is my public position for a
simple reason. This inquiry has the power to deal with everyone, including them. It will have my
full support to do it. We didn't need this distraction of immature behaviour by journalists in
Bundaberg the other. That, in essence, undermines the credibility of what's being done.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Just one political question to wrap up and it's against this background. In
Queensland at the State level Labor has 62 of 89 seats. A huge majority. Federally, six out of 28.
Why has Federal Labor failed so dismally in Queensland?

PETER BEATTIE: I think the last federal election was poorly orchestrated and I've said this
publicly before Barrie, but the reality is the Howard Government outmanoeuvred us when it came to
interest rates. In Queensland we're the growth State of Australia.

BARRIE CASSIDY: It was seven seats in 2001, eight seats in '98. It's been going on for a while.

PETER BEATTIE: All that's true. Yes, it has and I think we could have done a lot better had we
tackled the interest rate issue. Barrie, let's be blunt. There are three ways that the Labor Party
can win. One is to get good candidates and frankly while we have some good Federal members and good
candidates we could have done better. That was the first thing. Secondly, policy. I think we've got
to go out and talk very clearly about what the Hawke-Keating Government did when it came to
economic management. Whenever we do polls we don't stand as well as we could on those things. We
should. Most of the economic reform that gave strength to this country came from the Hawke-Keating
days. We should have the guts to stand up and be very proud of what we did. We need clear tax
policy. Kim Beazley is working on these things now and Wayne Swan and others and I've talked to
them about it. Good policy is the key to it and that's what Queenslanders will respond to and
thirdly, of course, is a good campaign. I'm not trying to be clever Barrie but we offer in
Queensland is good policies at a State level. We've driven jobs and we have worked very hard to
deliver the sort of balanced policies that people want. That's what they want. They want policy and
a vision about where we're going and that's what our smart State strategies are all about. We can
win here but what's developed in Queensland is we've got Labor-Liberal voters or Liberal-Labor
voters. They vote Labor at a state level and Liberal at a federal level. The only way to stop that,
because people aren't rusted on like they used to be before. Once upon a time you'd always vote
Labor, Liberal or the National Party. That's not the go anymore. People will only vote if a
government is performing and only vote if they can see clear policies that will improve not only
the economy, but their individual welfare and the nation.

BARRIE CASSIDY: OK, thanks for your time this morning, appreciate it.

PETER BEATTIE: It's a pleasure Barrie, thank you.