There is no inconsistency between the Liberals' policies for the mid-80's Australia Card and the present smartcard (The Age, 30/3/05). The original Australia Card concept would have caught all transactions, including those relating to income and tax, whereas this is all about catching welfare fraud. The Libs understand that their core constituency can only go so far with generous capital gains tax concessions and negative gearing. After that, they need, well, more room to maneuver, and tracking income and tax transactions would stifle financial creativity.
Think I'm being too cynical? Watch as Howard's centerpiece "middle-class welfare" (non-means-tested funding for high-income earners through, for example, the Family Tax Benefit scheme and private health insurance rebates) is exempted from the smartcard proposal. They'll come up with some excuse: it's either too difficult or an invasion of privacy or just plain unnecessary.
The Liberals believe in civil liberties for the tax affairs of the wealthy - and a "tag and release" program for people on the dole.