Tim Kelsey (centre) head of the Australian Digital Health Agency

Norway has had a single identity number for all citizens since 1964. It is a practical measure, not contested when implemented, nor controversial today. Here in Australia, Bob Hawke introduced The Australia Card in 1985, causing a double dissolution election two years later. It was ultimately defeated. Over the years, similar schemes have met the same fate, and now the debate rages over My Health Record. What are we so afraid of?

On the odd occasion that I need to access my bank account or a government service back in the country I left 30 years ago, I do so using 11 digits comprising my birth date and a serial number. Plus a secure two-factor authentication system using a dongle or a mobile phone. It is a centralised service owned and run by the banks, tightly regulated.