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Cabinet leaks shows 'High Priority" is high farce under Liberals.\n

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ROBERT MCCLELLAND MP Shadow Minister for Homeland Security

SENATOR JOE LUDWIG Acting Shadow Attorney-General Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs 24 May 2005


Secret Cabinet documents tabled by Labor's Senator Joe Ludwig last night in Senate estimates show how "high priority" turns into a snail's pace under the Liberals' bumbling administration.

When asked last night if there was any urgency in the Howard Government's moves to establish a national identity security regime, Senator Ellison dutifully replied:

Senator Ellison - …The fact is that fraud costs this country $1.1 billion a year directly, and that is largely identity fraud and identity theft. It is a pressing issue. Of course, there is also the question of security, so this is a high priority for the government. and:

Senator LUDWIG—How long have you been working on this?

Senator Ellison—From the Commonwealth point of view, at least a couple of years that I know of. It was even before my time, I think.

“It sure was Minister. In estimates last night we heard that the "first scoping work" on the national identity security regime took place in 2001 and according to Cabinet documents (attached), the whole strategy was to be implemented by 1 July 2004,” Mr Ludwig said.

“Yet, for all the Howard Government's "high priority", two of the three programs identified as crucial for national security and fraud prevention simply never had funds attributed to them, while the third is still only at the pilot stage.

“There's now been four years worth of "scoping!” Mr Ludwig said.

“Incredibly, the Cabinet documents show a total of $376.3 million was supposed to be allocated in funding but in the Budget this month has scaled it back to about $5.8 million,” Mr McClelland said.

“When it comes to national security and crime fighting, the Howard Government should quit its endless bluster and get on with the real job of delivering much needed programs for the community,” he concluded.”

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