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The federal government is considering issuing new Medicare cards for the millions of Australians who had their private details leaked as part of the Optus data breach.

Health Minister Mark Butler told the ABC today the government was only alerted that Medicare numbers were part of the massive leak when the apparent culprit, who later stopped his extortion bid, posted 10,000 new personal records online yesterday.

“We are very concerned about the loss of the data and are working hard to deal with the consequences, but we are particularly concerned we were not notified earlier and consumers were not notified earlier about the breach of Medicare data as well,” he said.

The government is still working to find out how many Medicare numbers were exposed but Butler said the issuing of new ones was being considered.

“We will have more to say about that … but we are looking at it very closely.”

Butler said the government was also considering fast-tracking passport replacements.

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