"We've been constructive in the Labor Party, we said we would download the app," Bowen told the ABC's Radio National Drive program on Monday.
"And, you know, we didn't stand in the way we were very constructive in it. Ultimately, the government was responsible for the design and all the features and it's a statement of fact that it hasn't detected anybody yet."
When the app was launched, 6696 Australians had been identified as having the coronavirus. After that, 926 cases were registered uptil 1 July but only 40 had the COVIDSafe app installed and allowed health officials access to close contact data.
"That's a good response from Australians. And so you can't blame the public. Clearly, there have been issues with it. We've pointed out all the issues with inter-operability, [like] the fact that it didn't operate with diabetes apps, for example, which many Australians have on their phones. [Plus], there were issues about whether the app has to be at the front of the phone, etc. We pointed those out consistently," he said
Bowen claimed the government had oversold the effectiveness of the app.
"It's very clear. It was understandable that if you like, the defence the government had was 'it hasn't found anybody because there isn't much COVID around' until this recent outbreak, but it should be playing a bigger role.
"And the fact that it hasn't, means that the government does have some considerable questions to answer about why they put so much stress on it."
Bowen emphasised that the government needed to acknowledge the app was just a waste of space. "...the issue is not the number of people who've downloaded it, more than six million is a reasonable number," he said
"It's the fact that it's not actually playing a role. So the government does need to own up to that fact. It's just a statement of fact. It would be better if they just acknowledged it."