Your paperssss, pleees.
Monday July 18th 2005, 4:01 pm



Truly free societies offer a few perks to their constituents. A legal presumption of innocence is one of the primaries, along with the right to move about freely within the country, without police interference. That includes a presumption that all persons you might encounter are ashore legally, until such is proven otherwise.

In Australia, one’s skin colour or English language capacities can not be a legitimate cause for detention- unless these are causes to exclude a person from becoming an Australian citizen. Australian law recognises naturalised citizens as having rights equivalent to those of domestically born Australians. Citizens are not required to carry proof of citizenship at all times, whether that citizenship was acquired by birth or by naturalisation.

I am a naturalised Australian citizen, yet I speak English with a prominent American accent. All the same, I insist upon being treated by police as though I was born in Ferntree Gully. If I am approached by police over a traffic matter, I will produce my NSW driving licence, as would any other Australian. Being that I am blonde and blue eyed, I’m unlikely to receive any further scrutiny. However, if I were olive-skinned or almond-eyed, you can bet I would get more than a few queries about my residency permission.

John HoWARd has raised the spectre of a national ID card in the wake of the London bombings, as some sort of a means of protecting against terrorism in Australia. Given that the accused bombers in London were otherwise unsuspected, legal residents of England, even a compulsory ID card would have done nothing to stop that attack.

Further, knowing the nature of Aussies, if all persons in Australia were required to carry an ID card at all times, millions of them would appear at police stations without cards and volunteer to be jailed. HoWARd’s own backbench has already indicated dissent.

HoWARd himself opposed the introduction of a national ID card in 1987 when he was in the opposition. He now claims that times have changed and that a compulsory national ID card is desirable, though HoWARd admits that compulsory national ID cards may indeed constitute a breach of civil rights.

I’ll take that one step further and suggest that compulsory ID cards are a breach of human rights. A free society and the government thereof exists to preserve the way of life of a free people, not to curtail freedoms… and thus perpetuate itself.

Even if you vote Liberal, you cannot possibly agree that mandatory ID cards are a character of a free and democratic nation, nor will they significantly aid in protection against terrorist attacks. A policy of openness and trust with the Australian Muslim community will be a cornerstone in preventing the sort of attack suffered by Londoners.

Our foreign policy must match our intent. While there may be some merit in militarily opposing those who would change the culture of secular societies by force, I suspect that quite a lot of steam could be taken out of the Al Qaeda movement simply by western nations  recognising the existence of their Muslim neighbours and attracting the vocal approval of moderate Muslims.

Following the irrational GW Shrub’s illegal war into Iraq made Australia into a prime terrorist target. Only our relative geographical  isolation has so far kept us safe- while Madrid was bombed. Withdrawing Australian forces from Iraq may indeed redirect the attention of potential terrorists to other nations… hopefully before we have our own domestic sob-story in the headlines.

HoWARd, it seems, has so far only launched a ‘trial balloon’ as it is known in US politics, to gauge public opinion. While he’s listening, let him know how you feel about compulsory ID cards. Fire off a letter to JWH and also your local Liberal MP. 

The ‘fair-go’ should go worldwide. 


2 Comments so far
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“I’ll take that one step further and suggest that compulsory ID cards are a breach of human rights. A free society and the government thereof exists to preserve the way of life of a free people, not to curtail freedoms… and thus perpetuate itself.”

But Weez, what about birth certificates, Medicare records, driving records, passports, etc. etc? The government is already capturing a whole lot of data about us and needs to in order to function effectively.

I agree that people should not be forced to carry around their identification cards – that’s just silly and draconian. But if a national id card was issued that didn’t store any more information about someone than already existed, what would be the harm?

Comment by Guy 07.19.05 @ 1:50 pm

Guy, it appears that an ID card is nothing if not a bureaucratic exercise in duplication of effort.

In practicality, not all agencies need all possible information about you. In example, only Medicare need access my medical details. I see no need for other government agencies to have access to my medical data. Providing a central (duplicate) database of information that no one really needs is not only a wasteful exercise- but would have immense potential for abuse. Moreover, the bureaucratic structure to maintain the ID card system would quickly become self-perpetuating.

ID cards would be useless unless there was a requirement to produce the card on demand from law enforcement. That means there must be a penalty for failing to produce the card- or everyone would simply stick them in the kitchen junk drawer, next to their anti-terrorism fridge magnets.

At best, a national ID card system is a waste of time and money. At worst, it’s Orwellian and autocratic.

Comment by weezil 07.20.05 @ 12:10 am

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