Tuesday, 14 July 2020 11:32

Bowen describes COVIDSafe app as a waste of $2 million Featured

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Bowen describes COVIDSafe app as a waste of $2 million Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

Australian Labor Party health spokesman Chris Bowen has labelled the COVIDSafe app a $2 million failure, saying that despite all the exhortations to people to download it, it had had no role and had therefore failed.

"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.

Bowen said Australians had responded very well to the appeals to download the app and more than six million had downloaded it.

"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."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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