The prime minister has been keeping his options open on an ID card.
“It’s a balance any democratic society requires – a constant
readjustment of that balance,” he said in Washington at the weekend. Perhaps that balancing act explains why he’s swayed from side to side on the issue. The Imagining Australia blog documents some curious Mr Flip-Flop behaviour by the prime minister on the issue.

It starts off in 1985,
with the PM saying: “I personally see some merit in having an ID card
providing the civil liberties concerns that people have voiced can be
looked after and provided the government can satisfy the community that
there is some cost benefit in it.” We then hop to 1987
and John Howard bagging Bob Hawke: “If the prime minister imagines that
he is on a winner in trying to support this identity card legislation,
I invite him to listen to every talk-back radio program in Australia
today. I invite him to find out the attitude of the Australian people
in the cities. They are absolutely delighted that the ID card will be
consigned to the wastepaper basket. That is so because the great
majority of the Australian people have not swallowed the nonsense, the
fear and innuendo campaign that has been waged by the prime minister.”

Fast forward to last Thursday
and it’s: ‘We haven’t made a decision to have an ID card in this
country, but it should be properly on the table.” And then there’s the
Washington presser and “If you look at it just as a civil liberties
issue you would never change anything.”

Peter Fray

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