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Question: COVIDsafe App


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:36): My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing regarding the COVIDSafe app. It is simply: what state requirements, through either the parliament or other delegated legislation, will be required for this app to be able to be implemented in South Australia, and how many South Australians have downloaded it?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:37): In relation to the honourable member's last question, I can confidently say that one has, and that is me. I am strongly encouraging South Australians to sign up for the COVIDSafe app, because it will help our public health clinicians to trace cases. It is one thing to test, but once you have found a case you need to be able to find out who they have come into contact with.

In terms of the COVIDSafe app and engaging the state officials, the commonwealth has made it very clear that the only people who can use the data are state officials, and to facilitate that there was an agreement that each state and territory bilaterally had to sign with the commonwealth. My understanding—and I will come back to you if I am wrong—is that we signed our agreement at the end of last week. It might have been early this week, but we are signed up, which now means that South Australian public health officers will be able to get access to the information.

My understanding is that the commonwealth parliament will be considering legislation this week, but I expect all of the commitments of the commonwealth in relation to privacy will be reflected in either legislation that is put into place or legislation that is in place. I am advised that the proposal was subject to a privacy impact statement, which was prepared in consultation with the Australian Privacy Commissioner, and it will be published.

I am confident that the commonwealth will be vigorous in complying with privacy, because I think that the confidence of the public in this app will be crucial. In that sense, I would remind people that the app is deletable. If you delete the app, the data associated with it is also destroyed. In that context, any suggestion that this app is being misused I think would lead to a significant withdrawal, which would completely undermine the public health effort. Certainly, to the extent that it is within my capacity, I will be protecting the privacy of the app.

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