Minister’s Tudge and Robert fronted the Canberra press gallery recently to inform the nation of a new tender that will be a called for a whole-of-government permission capability for passport holders who can start by digitising the incoming passenger card at our international airports. The powers and objectives of the government are now clear; monitoring its own citizens, even at the airport as you arrive back from an overseas family trip. Afterall citizens should be concerned as the Federal Government has had some issues with some of its digital systems in the past – ABS census, COVID-Safe App, Robodebt and medical records online.

Seven months ago, half a million Australians used to log onto Commonwealth digital platforms a day. In October that number had increased on just one day to 2.6 million. The Government digital systems now are quite expansive and quite extraordinary. It was not so long ago that the Liberal party campaigned against an Australia identity Card but now they are spruiking a complete digital surveillance of citizens who return to our nation.

In terms of the sheer volume of what government does, like for example the department of Services Australia, they now do more transactions than the four big banks put together and answer almost 200,000 calls a day – over 130,000 calls to the welfare line were answered in just over 60 seconds, also 2.6 million logins into MyGov occurred and they had 82,000 concurrent users; all working almost seamlessly in terms of government system and delivery. This permissions project is just one more method to be used in this whole-of-government digital platform rollout for citizens as paper records are removed.

Everybody who arrives into Australia, be you a foreigner or an Australian, you would normally complete this card by hand, it can be hard to read the writing but it has your contact information, your details, as well as some of the biosecurity information. Next year, Tudge and Robert’s expectation is that we’ll no longer need this incoming passenger card because we’ll have a fully digital incoming one.

This digital information will also be able to attach an authentic vaccination certificate to the card so that we will know if a person has, indeed, had that vaccination or not. And therefore, they will be able to enter into Australia, potentially without quarantining.

Furthermore, by digitising the card, the government has much greater authenticity and integrity associated with who the individual is; because typically you’d do this on your phone, an image would be taken of your face which would match up to your passport, to ensure there is integrity in relation to the identity of the individual. And of course, from a contact tracing perspective it means that we will be able to immediately have the information connected into contact tracing capability in each of the state and territories’ jurisdictions, should they need it.

What Labor and Keating failed to achieve is now being implemented by the party that campaigned against it all under the guise of national security concerns, Covid 19 and customer convenience. The accumulation of personal data by government and their agencies raise questions about an individual’s right to privacy and data sovereignty. Many people would have uncertainty and distrust with how the government may use that information.