News Coronavirus Coronavirus app could be key to economic restart

Coronavirus app could be key to economic restart

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The TraceTogether app is already in use in Singapore. Photo: Getty
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A coronavirus contact tracing app has been linked to restarting Australia’s economy amid grim warnings about soaring unemployment because of the pandemic.

Think tank The Grattan Institute has released a new report which predicts the jobless rate could be as a high as 16 per cent, despite $130 billion in wage subsidies.

The Morrison government has set a series of benchmarks for economic restrictions to be gradually eased, with state and federal leaders due to make a call in mid-May.

Among the goals is a 40 per cent take-up rate of an app that uses phone interactions to trace when people with coronavirus have come into contact with others.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said the app would help to allow a restart of economic and social activity.

“It’s going to allow us to get back to life quicker,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Monday.

“It will allow us to get back to the footy quicker. It will allow us to get back to work quicker.”

Mr Robert has moved to allay privacy fears surrounding the app after some government MPs said they wouldn’t sign up.

Grattan found between 17 and 28 per cent of Australians – 2.2 to 3.6 million people – could be out of work in the coming weeks.

With the JobSeeker scheme taken into account, they predict the unemployment rate to be between 10 and 16 per cent.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said patience was important when considering relaxing social and business restrictions.

“We won’t go ahead of the medical advice,” he told Nine’s Today.

“We’ve always been consistently following the medical advice with respect to the coronavirus pandemic and it has served Australia well.”

The Business Council of Australia warns the community must have confidence restrictions being safely eased to guarantee social and economic benefits.

The council wants enhanced workplace safety standards, continuing partnerships between unions and bosses, and a switch from economic lifelines to growth measures.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has opened the door to a major shift in the government’s economic agenda when the pandemic subsides.

There have been 72 coronavirus deaths across the nation, with more than 6600 cases of the disease detected.

More than 4200 people have recovered, with Australia’s low mortality and high testing rates among the world’s best.

National cabinet, which includes Mr Morrison and state and territory leaders, will meet on Tuesday to discuss the prospect of restarting some elective surgeries.

That includes an extra 100 million masks set to be distributed over the next six weeks.

-AAP