Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Transcript: Interview with The Project

19 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


PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Government services Minister Stuart Robert joins us, what level of privacy can you guarantee if people do download this app?

MINISTER ROBERT:

A substantial level, PVO, we're only collecting the individuals name, a date of birth range of course their mobile number and their postcode and that's all we're collecting and it's only for the purpose of doing tracing in case you are in proximity to someone who's got the virus. The data stays on your mobile phone, and only gets sent up if indeed, you've become a positive to the virus or someone close to you. And at the very end, of course the data is all destroyed so the privacy levels are absolute

TOMMY LITTLE:

Minister, I understand that is what you're telling people but when there's been a $1,650 fine in place for people doing the wrong things in terms of social distancing, do you think that people might be scared that somehow this app will catch them out doing the wrong thing and so it's not the data so much they're worried about, it's just that they don't want to cop this huge farm they can't afford?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well the app doesn't do any geolocation, doesn't do any surveillance. We're not interested in where you are or what you're doing. All that the app does is connects with another app if you're within 1.5 metres for 15 minutes that's all it is, it's just a health app that serves no other purpose other than health, and it won't be used for any other purpose other than health. And of course, when the pandemic is done, you'll delete your app on your phone, and I'll delete the national data store.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

I'm not actually concerned about the privacy because it's a voluntary program, but if it's gonna be so effective if people take it up, why not make it compulsory so you can get even more out of it?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Because we want Australians to lean into a big team Australia moment. We want Australians to realise that if we're going to loosen these restrictions quickly and get back to normal life, we need to have greater testing as the Prime Minister has said, greater tracing and of course clamp down on clusters. All the app does is digitize an existing manual process, but does it quicker, does it in a matter of minutes, rather than days. And I'll tell you what, if it was your mum standing behind someone in a waiting line, you'd want them to get a call from the health professionals to say: hey you were within one and a half metres of someone for 15 minutes, come and get tested.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Any chance if the uptake is not as much as you'd like to maybe provide a bit of an incentive for people.

MINISTER ROBERT:

I think we'll give Australians a red hot crack at doing the right thing and embracing on the team Australia moment that's the most important thing. And there's no greater incentive right now than getting back to the footy and getting out and about.

TOMMY LITTLE:

Minister I can't wait to get back to the footy as you just said, if people don’t take this up, have you ever thought about embedding it in TikTok, and then people just all have it without knowing?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well I'm, I'm concerned people might start doing a TickTok dance, which is fine but dancing tends to get you in close proximity to other people. So we need social distancing in a very sort of TikTok way.

TOMMY LITTLE:

Well that's only if you dance well it gets you closer to other people the way I dance they clear out.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Stuart Robert we appreciate your time. Thanks very much for joining us.

MINISTER ROBERT:

No problem great pleasure.

Page last updated: 16 July 2020