Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has unveiled a $256m plan to upgrade Centrelink’s facial recognition technology. Picture: Gary Ramage.
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has unveiled a $256m plan to upgrade Centrelink’s facial recognition technology. Picture: Gary Ramage.

Facial recognition to access welfare in overhaul

Facial recognition technology will be switched on to provide secure access to Centrelink and Medicare from home in a $256m upgrade of government services.

About 1.6 million Australians already use the government's "digital identity" system, which allows them to verify their identity without visiting a shopfront to have their passport, licence and other documents checked.

Next week's federal budget will include a major funding boost to expand the opt-in system to more government services, finalise its integration with the myGov website and include face verification.

The upgrade is a key part of the federal government's $800m digital business plan and will enable someone to start a business online in 15 minutes instead of having to grapple with paperwork.

Lining up at Centrelink may be a thing of the past with a budget upgrade to make online services better. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Lining up at Centrelink may be a thing of the past with a budget upgrade to make online services better. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Scott Morrison will unveil the package on Tuesday to help businesses forced to expand and overhaul their online operations during the coronavirus crisis.

"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," the Prime Minister said.

"The plan supports Australia's economic recovery by removing outdated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy."

During the pandemic, companies have been able to hold annual general meetings online and execute documents without printing and signing hard copies. These temporary measures will now become a permanent part of the Corporations Act.

The government's package also includes:

ALMOST $30m to accelerate the rollout of the 5G mobile network and trial private sector projects to see how the faster connection can help agricultural, mining, manufacturing and logistics businesses.

ONLINE training and advisory services to help small business owners in their digital transformation.

THE mandatory adoption of electronic invoicing for all government agencies by the middle of 2022.

Josh Frydenberg said the measures would help deliver "a more productive and competitive economy in the future".

"Australian industries and businesses are well placed to make the most of the opportunities offered by digital technologies but we need to take further steps to support small businesses adopt the digital capabilities to survive, thrive and grow," the Treasurer said.

Mr Frydenberg said the package - bolstered by an upgrade of the National Broadband Network to deliver faster internet speeds for businesses - would deliver a $6.4bn annual economic boost by 2024.


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