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Sydney council workers FORCED to download COVIDSafe app

by Jayden Song (2020-05-14)


A council has forced employees to download the Australian Government's COVIDSafe app on their work phones.

Workers at Strathfield Council, in Sydney's inner west, were told via email they were required to install the app to their council-provided mobile device to help speed up the process of loosening coronavirus restrictions.

But the email goes against a determination by Minister for Health Greg Hunt under the Biosecurity Act, which prohibits forcing an individual to download the Bluetooth tracing app.

Henry Wong, the council's chief executive, sent this 'high' importance email to employees on Monday April 27, following the launch of COVIDSafe. 

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A council has forced employees to download the Australian Government's COVIDSafe app on their work phones


'Achieving the capability for rapid contact tracing is one of three conditions that must be satisfied before the government would consider relaxing the current restrictive measures to combat COVID-19,' the email said.

'The sooner we achieve downloads better than 40 per cent of the entire population, the sooner we can get back to normal. 






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'And if you have a council provided mobile device, you are required to download the app by the COB today.' 

According to The Daily Telegraph, at least one employee raised concerns about being forced to install the app. However, they downloaded COVIDSafe as they didn't want to lose their job. 

Section 9 of the Biosecurity Act determination, 'coercing the use of COVIDSafe', says users cannot be forced to download the app.






Henry Wong, the council's chief executive, sent this 'high' importance email to employees on Monday April 27, following the launch of COVIDSafe


'A person must not require that another person download COVIDSafe to a mobile telecommunications device,' it reads.

'A person must not take adverse action (within the meaning of the Fair Work Act 2009) against another person.'

Earlier this week, the government released a draft of its legislative backing to privacy and data protections for the COVIDSafe tracing app.

It proposes to make it illegal for anyone to refuse a person without the app entry to a public place, ban them from an activity or refuse to buy or sell goods and services to them.

The legislation would also make it an offence to access the data without proper authorisation and for the data to be stored anywhere outside of Australia.

All offences have a maximum penalty of five years in jail, a $63,00 fine or both.

The legislation, which will be put to parliament when it returns next week, backs up rules already laid out in a biosecurity determination. 

A Strathfield Council spokeswoman said Mr Wong stands by his original request for staff to download the app on work devices.

'He maintains that as CEO his call for work assets to have the app installed is a lawful direction and reasonable given the mandate issued by the National Cabinet and the PM,' the spokeswoman said.

'As a responsible employer of staff who provide essential services to the community, the app installed on Council's owned devices will provide the means for the rapid contact tracing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 from unknown sources involving key staff, and therefore would protect Council's entire workforce.'


















Workers at Strathfield Council, in Sydney's inner west, were told via email they are required to install the app to their council provided mobile device to help speed up the process of loosening coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Strathfield Municipal Council Chambers

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