Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Transcript: Sky News, interview with Paul Murray

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

 

Minister Robert:

So all the app does is digitally replicate a manual process, no more and no less. For the manual process Paul, if you catch COVID-19 health officials would sit down and ask who are you with, where were you, let's talk back and you can't remember the 90 year old lady in the line behind you at Woolies or the family at the swings you’ve got a bit too close to you at the park. Whereas if everyone's running a COVID trace app, all the app does is connect the name and phone number of people who've been 15 minutes, within 1.5 metres proximity of you and make that available to state health officials, so it speeds up the process by many, many days. 

Could you imagine having to try and get hold of CCTV footage off Woolies to try and work out who the 90 year old lady behind you is? Within minute, state health has got the information they need to rapidly call other Australians. And think about if you were in the line behind someone else, who'd been tested positive, you'd want state health to call you quickly as well.

Paul Murray:

So people have this view that someone's going to be sitting there late at night watching 25 little million red dots moving around the map. Is this about real time observation, or just when someone gets it trawling back through the information?

Minister Robert:

So there's no geolocation. Health doesn't care where people are on the face of the earth. It's only about how they trace. So if you test positive, the data will go to the data store, state health will access it, and then we'll just call people that you've been in proximity to, and I'll give them a call and say hey, Paul, a COVID trace says you were near someone who has now tested positive, you might want to come in and have a chat, get tested, etc etc.

Paul Murray:

Okay, I'm going to get in trouble for asking these questions but I'm the one who's going to get in trouble, not you for answering them. Okay, if there is a young person who for whatever reason, decides to purchase illegal drugs. Will that information, become known to authorities?

Minister Robert:

No. So all we care about is who the person was next to. So let's take your example of the drug dealer and they spend 15 minutes within 1.5 metres of someone who's contracted the virus. Then, state health would give them a call if both of those people are using the app and say, hey, you've been in proximity, you might want to come in and get tested. Because there's no geolocation no one knows where the young person was or what they were doing, there's no surveillance at all. It's simply who they were near from a health point of view.

Paul Murray:

So put simply, will there be a scenario where after two weeks, all of this information is destroyed because you're out of that two week window?

Minister Robert:

It – rolling on a 21 day. So again using these example, the app is running for 21 days, collecting information, 22nd day the first day disappears 23rd day the second day disappears. Rolling 21 days so only 21 days worth of data is on my phone in an encrypted format that no one can see. And if I never contract the virus the pandemic ends, I delete the app, all the data on my phone is deleted. And of course I as the minister will delete the national data store. But if I get positive, that data will go up to, to state health, they will check it, go through it all, it'll sit there resident in the data store, and will be destroyed when I as the Minister, destroy it at the end of the pandemic.

Paul Murray:

Last question, and if only 5 per cent of Australians download this or agreed to do it, or 10 per cent, what happens?

Minister Robert:

Well we're 5 per cent better off than we were yesterday. As I've been saying all weekend, all this is really a big team Australia time. If we want to loosen the restrictions and get back to the footy and get back to the beach and get back to the movies and get back to restaurants, the Prime Minister has been abundantly clear we need to have more testing, more tracing. The more Australians who download it and use it, frankly, the quicker we're getting back to the footy mate.

Paul Murray:

All right, every one so, they don’t care if you’re buying drugs, they don’t care if you're cheating on your partner…

Minister Robert:

Nope…

Paul Murray:

…they don’t care where you're spending your Saturday night, it's about the digitizing and speeding up of a process that already exists.

 

Page last updated: 20 April 2020