NT to join southern states with digital driver’s licence

Digital driver’s licences will be trialed in the Northern Territory before the end of next year, with the government announcing $20 million in funding to become the fifth jurisdiction to rollout the plastic card alternative.

The move, revealed on Saturday, follows the launch of digital licences in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland since 2017 and comes as Victoria begins its rollout on Monday.

It puts the territory on track to leapfrog neighboring state Western Australia – one of only two remaining jurisdictions yet to announce plans for a digital drive’s licence.

The Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Image: Shutterstock.com/Jack Kinny

Tuesday’s Budget will set aside $20.66 million for the digital licence, which the NT government has already begun developing and is planning to pilot with Territorians from late 2025.

“We want Territorians to have access the best technology this is why we are investing $20.66 million into this digital licence development,” Chief Minister Eva Lawler said in a statement on Saturday.

The government said the technology that will be used for digital driver’s licences is being built to integrate with the Banned Drinker Register – a register of people prohibited from purchasing takeaway alcohol – and other government systems, making them readable by NT Police.

In August last year, the peak industry body for the hospitality industry in the territory, Hospitality NT, called on the government to fast-track digital licences to complement the register, which was reintroduced in 2017.

The peak body said that with more and more domestic tourists travelling to the NT without physical credentials, bottle shops were being forced to manually enter data into the register for scanning purposes.

“With an average 450,000 BDR scans a month we look forward to our customers also being able to head to their local bottle shop just with their smart phone should they choose to,” Hospitality NT chief executive Alex Bruce said on Saturday.

The digital licence, which will complement physical cards and is expected to be recognised nationally, will also offer privacy enhancing features to protect identity information and “give people control over what information is shared with commercial identity verifiers”.

Minister for Corporate and Digital Development Selena Uibo said the new digital licence will be “easy-to-use, robust, trusted and secure” and leverage the Territory Services, the “central digital platform created for all NT government services”.

Evidence (or proof) of age cards are also expected to be digitised as part of the program of work, although the government has provided no timeline for when these might be trialed with Territorians.

South Australia was the first jurisdiction to launch digital drivers licences through its myGov SA app in October 2017, followed by New South Wales in October 2019 and Queensland in November last year.

Victoria began its statewide rollout on Monday, making good on its promise last month. It follows consultation with Victoria Police, Australia Post and businesses, such as bars, restaurants and car hire outlets.

Western Australia in April last year said it was developing digital credentials, including digital boat and fishing licences, for launch by the end of 2023, but has provided no further update since.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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