Scenic Rim leaders say government app the best way to track COVID-19

TRACKING DEVICE: The government says the COVID-19 digital tracing will allow easing of restrictions.
TRACKING DEVICE: The government says the COVID-19 digital tracing will allow easing of restrictions.

SCENIC RIM leaders have backed Scott Morrison's proposed Covid tracker mobile phone app, which will be available soon to track down people who may have been in contact with someone with the coronavirus.

Since the idea was put forward by the federal government last month, several MPs announced their concerns over the potential invasion of privacy but Scenic Rim leaders have largely backed the proposal.

State MP Jon Krause said he would put his hand up to install the app on his phone.

"The Scenic Rim community's efforts (and the nation's) in suppressing COVID-19 have been magnificent - so far," he said.

"Tracking the spread of cases has been important in that suppression, but is not perfect - it is very time consuming and quite often people can easily forget who they have come into contact with.

"I'm generally very sceptical about government schemes. My instinct, in normal times, would be to say a very big "no" to an application like this.

"However, we aren't in normal times - we are trying to find ways to get people back to work, saving jobs and livelihoods, while avoiding human disasters like we've seen in the US, Italy and other places.

"Doing both of these things is not easy, but tracking the virus is vital."

"I have no doubt social media companies obtain more information about people than the proposed Australian government application.

"The app is voluntary - but more users means better protection against COVID-19 spreading. Based on information provided about the app to date, and the advice and expertise of our health authorities, I will volunteer for this cause."

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen agreed to the concept in principal.

"Provided the privacy concerns are solved, the app offers a valuable tool to help keep our community safe from the ongoing threat," he said.

Beaudesert GP Michael Rice also said he would be happy to install the tracing app.

"I think I would be less worried about the app than I am about the information collected by search engines and social media," he said.

"The app will deliver protection from COVID-19 but it's a bit like immunisation, if you don't get the disease you won't be certain it was the vaccine that saved you.

"There are people who don't use Facebook or Google or do online shopping and those are the people who won't use the app, which is fine as long as we have enough people who do."

Wright MP Scott Buchholz said everything the government was doing was based on the best medical advice available with the aim of easing restrictions.

"We've seen in recent days growing anticipation in Australia, in many communities like ours that haven't experienced high rates of the virus, to see some return to normality," he said.

"Last week the Prime Minister outlined the framework agreed by National Cabinet to start to ease restrictions, that included what it would take to move forward.

"One of those key components was tracing of cases and rapid reaction to any outbreak.

"One option is the use of technology such as an app, which is still being finalised and will be completely voluntary.The app will help save lives and protect the community by mapping the spread of the coronavirus."

Mr Buchholz said the app would digitise the current contact tracing process already in place when anyone tests positive to coronavirus.

"It collects the same data currently provided to health authorities when a person tests positive.

Crucially this app will ensure health authorities can get the full picture and not rely solely on the memory of an infected person.

Mr Buchholz said the app would help identify people who might not even know they were carrying the virus and protect them, their families and the community more broadly.

"As individuals, we're currently giving the likes of Google and Facebook, access to information, that many would consider private data," he said.

"And for what exactly? So they can better target advertising.

"What health authorities are asking us, all of us as Australians to do, is consider a request to make their jobs easier and keep more people safe."

This came after other federal politicians, including Barnaby Joyce cited privacy concerns as the reason they would not be installing the app.

Bob Katter said he would not be signing up... and if it became compulsory he would rather be thrown in jail.

"I will not now, or in the future, agree to a contact tracing app," he said.

"The Christian Brothers, and other educators, insisted on us reading 1984 and A Brave New World, and now these Orwellian predictions have never seemed more real.

"Whatever argument you have for forsaking your freedoms, at the end of the day you will find it's a poor trade off."

Scenic Rim based One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson responded to the question about whether she would use the app with one word. No.

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