Australians will soon use their faces to access government services including Centrelink and Medicare under a $250 million plan in the 2020 Federal Budget.
More than 1.6 million Australians already use facial recognition to access 70 different government services. It allows users to verify their identity without having to visit a branch to have their identification documents like passports and licenses checked.
The new funding boost is set to deliver further access and fully integrate the facial recognition program with services including myGov.
Digital Business Plan unveiled
The $250 million is part of an $800 million digital technology package dubbed the ‘Digital Business Plan’ that Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil in next Tuesday’s budget, with Australians also able to use the facial recognition technology to file bankruptcy applications, enrol to vote, apply for welfare payments and even register votes.
The centrepiece of the package is $400 million set aside to update business registers, with a goal of allowing businesses to view, maintain and update their data in one location.
“Many businesses moved online quickly when the pandemic hit, undergoing a decade of change in months, finding new customers or new ways of doing things,” Morrison said.
"The plan supports Australia's economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses, and backs the uptake of technology across the economy.”
The digital technology package also includes $25 million to help small businesses develop their digital capacity and another $7 million for research into how blockchain technology could be deployed to cut regulatory compliance costs.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the investment in digital technology is needed to ensure Australia recovers from the pandemic and associated economic downturn. The Government estimates the plan should boost GDP by $6.5 billion.
A report from global consultancy firm McKinsey found that Covid-19 had fast-tracked Australia’s technology adoption by as much as five years in eight weeks. Citing this, the prime minister said the 2020 budget will “support businesses to recover, build back and create more jobs”.
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