Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Transcript: Interview with Natalie Barr, Sunrise

17 April 2020

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
Topics: 
Australian Government’s coronavirus contact tracing app
E&OE

NATALIE BARR:

Well Australia is set to roll out a coronavirus tracing app within two weeks which could help bring an end to isolation restrictions. Called TraceTogether the app uses Bluetooth technology to record contact with people so if they test positive for COVID-19, you can be notified.

A similar model is used in Singapore, but the take up there has been very slow for it to be effective 40 per cent of the population must opt in. Authorities are hopeful that will be embraced in Australia despite privacy concerns.

Joining me now is Government Services Minister Stuart Robert, morning Minister. Can you explain how that works, and how we will benefit from downloading it?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Thanks Nat, the COVID trace app that we're looking to put out in the coming weeks, and the tech is being tested, is simply an app or a digital way replicating a manual process.

Right now if you're tested positive for COVID-19 health officials will sit down and talk you through who you've been in contact with, the COVID trace app simply digitises that process.

So if your app has been within 15 minutes duration of someone within one and a half meters proximity, there'll be a ping or swapping of phone numbers, and that'll stay on your phone and then of course if you test positive, a voluntary app of course, you'll give consent and those numbers will be provided securely to health professionals, and they'll be able to call people you've been in contact with.

So it's a Health app, and it's designed to give you a sense of peace of mind that if you've been in close contact with someone health officials will call you.

NATALIE BARR:

Minister people are saying here, I don't want the government to have access to my information, it's on Bluetooth, who will have access to it?

MINISTER ROBERT:

The Government won’t have information regarding you Nat. Let's say you have on your phone and as you went through your life and over a course rolling 21 days you were within close proximity, 1.5 meters for 15 minutes, with five people those numbers will be on your phone, nowhere else, encrypted you can’t access them no one else can. And if you tested positive the authorities would ask you to consent and that would be uploaded to a secure server where health authorities would call those people. That's it.

No one has access to your data, no one is tracking you, there's no surveillance.

This is simply a digital way of a current manual process and it makes it quicker, and frankly Nat, it will give you a peace of mind when you're out and about if someone with the virus is close to you, health authorities will call you

NATALIE BARR:

Ok it will be interesting to see, thank you very much for explaining Minister.

Page last updated: 16 July 2020