“The Commonwealth will have no access to that data. It will be locked in the encrypted data store that can only be accessed by the state health detectives … who are actually making contact with the individuals.”
Using bluetooth, the app will be able to identify which users are near other users – it notes down the anonymous ID of any app users who are within 1.5 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes. If a user tests positive to coronavirus the central database can be used to trace contacts.
The government says it needs at least 40 per cent of Australians to download the app to make it effective at speeding up the process of contact tracing after a person tests positive to COVID-19.
Mr Morrison said the app, which he has promised will be voluntary, would make the contact tracing process currently being undertaken manually by state health departments more efficient, a measure necessary for social restrictions to be safely eased.
“I noticed in New Zealand they are asking people to keep diaries of these things,” he said.
“We think this is a more comprehensive and a more foolproof system of ensuring we are picking up as many of those contacts as possible.
“It will keep others they are coming in contact with more safe and will of course help Australia get back into an economy which will be supporting more and more jobs.”
Mr Morrison said the results of the nation’s efforts to keep the reproduction rate below 1.0 – meaning that each person with COVID-19 infected one person or less – looked “very encouraging” and that Australia would continue “to progress a successful suppression/elimination strategy”.
The language marks a shift from that used over the past week, when Mr Morrison sought to distance his approach to that of New Zealand, which has made eliminating the virus its goal.
The Prime Minister has said that while elimination could be a byproduct of Australia’s approach to tackling the virus, making it the explicit aim would require measures too destructive to the economy.
Mr Hunt said the government had secured a further 100 million protective masks to be delivered over the next six weeks and had received 3260 ventilators in the past week and a half, achieving “our national goal of full capacity of 7500 ventilators”.
Angelene Falk, the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, is preparing the privacy statement for the tracing app.
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.