Nearly a year after its planned arrival, the Territory is yet to move to digital driver’s licences – and it’s still a “few years” away, according to an ACT Government spokesperson.
ACT Government chief digital officer Bettina Konti said while digital licences remained a priority, the timeframe for their delivery was indefinite.
“At a national level, we need to agree on our standards and interoperability of driver’s licences and this will drive the technology solutions that we need to invest in,” she said.
“For example, digital driver’s licences need to be read by law enforcement, not just in the ACT but in all states and the Northern Territory,” Ms Konti said.
Further explaining the delayed delivery, an ACT Government spokesperson said that the pandemic has influenced their inability to resolve other priority initiatives on their Digital Delivery Roadmap.
Those priorities include developing a simple and centralised way people can inform the government about address changes that are reflected across all government systems and ensuring applicable concession entitlements are consistently and automatically applied.
“Delivering on these and other digital services requires strengthening the ACT Government’s Digital Account. This is the equivalent of the Service NSW platform – where people can log in and complete various government transactions,” the spokesperson said.
“We are continuing to build on the number of services available through the digital account so it becomes the way people interact with the ACT Government.
“There are already 171,000 Canberrans signed up to the Digital Account with a number of services connected to it such as Working With Vulnerable People registrations and infringement declarations.”
The spokesperson also cited the government’s desire to “take learnings” from jurisdictions across the country conducting trials of the digital licences as another reason the government couldn’t commit to a delivery timeframe, suggesting there would eventually be one consistent digital licence nationwide.
“The ACT Government is assessing a feasible delivery timeframe for digital drivers licences in line with our broader digital service priorities and the work being undertaken in other jurisdictions,” the spokesperson said.
The government also acknowledged the importance of driver’s licences as a proof of identity, saying that once the work on the project was more developed, they will undertake consultation and co-design with all industry groups that rely on licences as part of their business models.
They believe that once ready, the licences will be easy to download through the ACT Digital Account where they could be stored in the account or an Apple/Google wallet. The option of a physical licence would continue indefinitely.
Shadow Minister for Regulatory Services Peter Cain said that he was astounded that the government would openly declare that the licences would not arrive in the near future, considering that governments in South Australia and New South Wales had already done so some time ago.
“The Canberra Liberals believe that people should have a choice in how they would like to interact with government. These services should work for them, not the other way round,” Mr Cain said.
“The option for a digital driver’s licence will also reduce the burden on overworked Access Canberra staff and reduce congestion at storefronts.
“Canberrans are becoming concerned that service delivery standards are simply not up to scratch under this Labor-Greens Government.”