Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is warning of dire consequences if people don’t download a coronavirus tracing app, as two of his Nationals MPs refuse to sign up.
Mr McCormack’s long-time leadership rival Barnaby Joyce and one of his key supporters Llew O’Brien have raised privacy concerns with the government’s soon-to-be released tracing scheme.
But the Nationals leader said he would download the app along with his wife and three children.
“I’d much sooner download an app than two months from now be lying in an ICU bed, be lying in a palliative care bed, and wondering why I didn’t download an app,” Mr McCormack told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
The voluntary app uses Bluetooth connections to track down people who have come in contact with others carrying the deadly disease.
The government is looking for a minimum of 40 per cent of Australians to sign up for it to be effective.
Asked if he’d like to see Mr Joyce fall in line, the deputy prime minister said: “Barnaby Joyce is doing hard work for the people of New England. As always.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison briefed state and territory leaders about the app during a national cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
He said the commonwealth would have no access to the data, which is released by individuals to state-based virus tracers.
“It will be locked in the encrypted data store that can only be accessed by the state health detectives,” Mr Morrison said.
The prime minister said Australia’s approach was better than New Zealand where people are being told to record interactions in a diary.
“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,” he said.
“It will keep people safe, it will keep them and their families safe.”
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein is asking people in his state to back the app.
“I would hope that Tasmanians, when the app becomes available, would download it in droves,” he told reporters in Hobart.
“On my phone at the moment I’m tracked by Google, through my location devices with most of the apps I’ve downloaded. In fact, Google seems to be able to read my mind to be frank.”
Tracing is one of three key factors in the recovery from the virus, working alongside testing and boosting the nation’s health response capabilities such as ventilators.
Originally published as Nats leader douses Joyce’s virus app worry