The Howard government is about to invest more than a billion dollars of my money on its new Smart Card adventure.
This new card is claimed to be not mandatory, yet according to Howard's IR legislation I will have to use it if I want to visit my doctor for the now mandatory doctor's certificate I need to show at my place of work after the occasional cold strikes me down. Therefore, the card is more mandatory than most mandatory things in life.
My privacy is supposed to be protected with this card, yet it will carry personal information of mine of a yet undisclosed nature. What is guaranteed is that this card is going to carry a lot of information about me, information that I for one wouldn't particularly like to share. I know I'm being picky, but that's me; you see, I have migrated to Australia from Israel, where a mandatory national ID card is required as of the age of 16.
My personal ID card contained a "Nationality" field in which it stated "Jewish", despite the fact that I am an atheist and do not consider myself a Jew and despite the fact my religious beliefs are of nobody's business.
So yes, I am worried that eventually this new smartcard will end up carrying similar "Nationality" or "Religion" information on me. I am sure that it would not take much for government authorities to ascertain that such information is mandatory, be it for health related reasons or for security reasons. It could even end up on the card without us being aware of it.
Now, I am not going to debate on whether a billion dollars would suffice in financing this smartcard adventure, and I am not going to argue the validity of the estimates that say we will earn four billion dollars by implementing such a card. I am, however, going to plead the government to consider the following: One of the things I cherish most about Australia is that my background does not matter at all in my interaction with society and government authorities. For example, I was free to marry a person of another religion (try doing that in Israel). The key point here is that I am free, and once we go down the smartcard path that freedom will be endangered.
Please, do not take my freedom away.