Australia invented the technology underpinning Wi-Fi, along with the ‘black box’ flight recorder, ultrasound scanners and the heart pacemaker – just to mention some of our globally recognised innovations. We have an enviable track record when it comes to technology.
And yet, apparently Prime Minister Scott Morrison just wants us to adopt other country’s technologies these days. This week he told us, “we’re not trying to create the next Silicon Valley here in Australia. That’s not it. We’ve just got to be the best at adopting (other country’s technology)”.
PREFACE: It’s worth noting that Victoria is so far the only state known to have actually used the COVIDSafe app. It has now had 21 people who’ve tested positive let its health department download their data yet this didn’t identify anyone they didn’t already know about through existing manual contact tracing methods. Presumably the app missed numerous people with whom they must have come into contact. Time to fix it or flick it. Millions of Australians are out and about in the false belief that having downloaded the app they are somehow safer because that’s what the Government told them.
COVIDSafe is yet another flawed technology project from the Australian government. A failure to sufficiently consult with IT experts and privacy lawyers has significantly reduced public confidence, leading to a limited take-up that significantly reduces any potential benefit of the scheme.
People are wondering about the security of their personal and private information. The Attorney-General’s department declined to give a Senate hearing a guarantee that their legislation would override the US Cloud Act. This is important given that the data is stored with Amazon.
The creation of the Commission can be viewed in one of two ways. Either he’s put together a group of highly accomplished individuals who are “doing their bit for the country”, to quote Mr Morrison, and they’ll deliver great ideas and practical plans. Or, it’s a classic example of ‘pass the parcel’ and henceforth the government will be able to say they just did what they were advised to do.
I think there are three things we can learn from Frank Walker’s life and legacy. First, his willingness to make personal sacrifices for fairness and justice. Second, his pragmatism – to know the best possible outcome when you see it, and to not let it go. Third, to be able to provide a calm and sensible voice in the midst of emotion and hysteria. These lessons are no more relevant than to the current national discussion about the Uluru Statement, constitutional recognition and an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.