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AGAINST – Committees — Selection of Bills Committee; Report

Sue Lines

The question now is that the motion, as amended, be agreed to.

Nick McKim

I ask that the question be put separately in regard to paragraph (c) of this motion, which relates to the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 3) Bill. I indicate that we will be voting differently on that compared to the rest of the motion.

Sue Lines

The question is that paragraphs (a) and (b) of the motion as amended be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

The question is that paragraph (c) of the Selection of Bills Committee report, as amended, be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

Nick McKim

by leave—I ask that the Greens' opposition to that motion be recorded.

Malcolm Roberts

I move:

At the end of the motion, add:

"but, in respect of the Digital ID Bill 2023 and the Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023, the Economics Legislation Committee report by 14 May 2024".

The Digital Identity Bill may be the most significant piece of legislation this 47th parliament will introduce. The effect of this bill is to tie every Australian to a digital identity that unlocks services necessary for life. This bill does not make identifying oneself online easier. It will facilitate making a digital identity check mandatory. That onerous measure comes at the price of putting identifying information for every Australian in the one spot and emits a giant, flashing, neon sign above everyone, saying, 'Hack me.' The ALP, Greens and the crossbench have rightly condemned the robodebt tragedy, yet the program was based on the same hubris and arrogance that informs this legislation. Time will be needed to review four key areas: the technical feasibility of a digital identity in light of previous data-matching failures; security over the data; the outcomes from identical legislation in other jurisdictions; and implications for misuse of digital identity. If those in this chamber are unaware of the significance of this legislation then they are proving the need to extend the inquiry period.

Katy Gallagher

Everything that Senator Roberts just said is incorrect and is not part of the bill. It is not mandatory; it is actually putting in place legislation that regulates the existing system—10½ million Australians have a myGov ID. The system is working under the TDIF that the opposition put in place.

This reform started in 2014, when it was recommended. There have been nine years of work. I have been getting representations from the opposition—from the shadow minister—to say that we are being too slow in putting this in place, and now the opposition are going to vote to delay it. When you meet with business and small business, this is the thing that they want in place. They want a regulator in place. They want legislation around it. It is not about giving anybody a digital identity. It is about people being able—

Sue Lines

Minister, I'm sorry, please resume your seat. Senator Roberts has just moved his amendment, Senator Canavan, and he was heard in silence. I remind senators who are being disorderly that, for one, you are not in your seats, so you are being even more disorderly. The minister has the right to be heard in silence.

Katy Gallagher

This bill is about reducing the amount of information that is being held to verify your ID. That information is currently being held in a number of places. Every time you have to prove your ID, where you provide information to different organisations—this is about reducing that. This is in response to Optus. It's in response to Medibank. The private sector wants it in place. They want it regulated. We have the system in place now, and we have private sector ID providers who are unregulated. There's no regulator. The ACCC is going to be put in place. This is a system that's operating now. If people choose to get a digital identity—whether it be a public identity through myGovID or through one of the private sector ones—they are operating in it now. This is about enshrining it in legislation and making sure we've got an accreditation system in place.

I can see all of those up there laughing. I can see what's going to happen. We know what's going to happen. You're going to misrepresent this bill, like Senator Roberts did just then. It is not mandatory. It's voluntary. It's secure. It's safe. People get to control the information that they provide to verify their identity. It's about personal control. The hypocrites on this side, who are sitting here—the opposition—are going to vote against it.

Sarah Henderson

On this side? This is your side.

Katy Gallagher

No, you lot all sitting here. The opposition are arguing to get it in—

No, I'm not, Senator McDonald.

No, I'm not, Senator Henderson.

Sue Lines

Minister Gallagher, I will ask you to withdraw your comment.

Katy Gallagher

I withdraw. The opposition, who, in one breath, are arguing for it to be put in place faster, are now arguing for delay. You're making people less safe. You're making their identity documents less safe. That is what you are doing by supporting delaying this report until 14 May. It means that we will not have this system in place by July 2024, which is what has been sought and what has been consulted on for nine years.

I inherited this from the opposition, who had failed to get it to legislation stage after eight years of working on it. This has not come out of the blue. This does not require a long committee process. There have been exposure drafts. There have been consultation processes. This is about making sure that people's information and the amount of information they have to share is reduced. It's about making sure there's a legislative framework. It's about making sure there's a regulator in place to ensure that the system works efficiently. It is about protecting individuals' own information.

I cannot believe that those opposite are going to side with people who are going to pretend this bill is a whole range of things that it absolutely isn't. When they say it's mandatory, it's not. When they say it's going to steal your identity or it's a big government conspiracy, it is not. This is about personal control of your own information. It is completely voluntary. It's an important economic reform that needs to happen, and it needs to be done quickly so that we can respond to Optus and Medibank, where people's documents have been taken and have been misused and their privacy and their control over those documents has been abused. Please support the government's position, which is for a committee inquiry to report by the end of February.

Matthew Canavan

I wasn't going to contribute, but I heard the minister in her contribution say that this bill is not about a digital identity. The bill is called the Digital ID Bill 2023. Talk about misinformation here! Why is your bill called the Digital ID Bill 2023 if it's not about providing a digital ID?

Sue Lines

Senator Cash!

Matthew Canavan

What is going on here? All Senator Roberts is asking to do is to extend the inquiry into May next year. We're not really going to get going again until February, after the Christmas break. We're asking for February, March and April—three months to have an inquiry on a massively significant piece of legislation.

Government senators interjecting—

Sue Lines

Senator Canavan, please resume your seat. Once again, senators on my right are being incredibly disorderly. You're not even in your seats. The interjections are disorderly. Senator Canavan has the right to be heard in silence, and that is what I am requesting.

Matthew Canavan

The minister is saying that somehow it will be unsafe if we wait another few months while we have an inquiry into a significant piece of legislation. This government has been in power for 18 months. If this was so important, why has it taken them 18 months to bring this legislation forward? If it's so important, why is all our data already contained and safe, apparently, and no problems?

We know there are already issues with the security of people's data. We know, from the Medibank fiasco that occurred just recently, that people can't always trust governments to keep their data safe. That's why there should be a significant and comprehensive inquiry that gives all Australians the opportunity to have their say.

What the government is trying to do here is to rush this through without proper scrutiny, without Australians being able to understand what the government is doing with their data, with their security and with their privacy. This should go through because it is our job to scrutinise legislation, and there is nothing lost by waiting a few more months to get this right.

Sue Lines

The time for debate on this amendment has expired. The question is that the amendment moved by Senator Roberts be agreed to.

Summary

Date and time: 11:50 AM on 2023-11-30
Senator Pocock's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 28
Total number of "no" votes: 30
Total number of abstentions: 18

Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au