Failed COVIDSafe app deleted

The Albanese Government has acted to delete the wasteful and ineffective COVIDSafe app.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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The Albanese Government has acted to delete the wasteful and ineffective COVIDSafe app.


The former Government wasted more than $21 million of taxpayer’s money on this failed app.


Since it was launched in April 2020 only two positive COVID-19 cases were identified through the app, which were not found by manual contact tracers.


The app only identified 17 close contacts that hadn’t already been identified through manual contact tracing.


There was a total of 7.9 million registrations of the COVIDSafe app between April 2020 and May 2022, but fewer than 800 users consented to their data being added to the National COVIDSafe Data Store for contact tracing.


This failed app cost taxpayers more than $10 million in developing the app, a further $7 million on advertising and marketing, $2.1 million on upkeep and more than $2 million on staff.


The last upload of data from users to the National COVIDSafe Data Store occurred in May 2021, and there has been no access to the data store by state and territory authorities since January 2022.


The decision to cease the app means that the Department of Health and Aged Care will not be permitted to collect any data from the app, and it will be removed from the platforms where it could be downloaded.


The Department is working to delete all COVIDSafe app data as soon as possible, and no COVIDSafe app data will be retained.


Push notifications and SMS texts will be sent to any remaining users informing them the COVIDSafe app is no longer in use and encouraging them to delete the app from their devices.


The Privacy (Public Health Contact Information) (End of the COVIDSafe data period) Determination 2022 ceasing the app comes into force on 16 August 2022.


The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the independent national regulator for privacy, will undertake an assessment to provide assurance that the COVIDSafe app information management requirements have been met following the Health Minister’s determination.


Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:


“This failed app was a colossal waste of more than $21 million of taxpayers money.


“This is a trademark of the former Government, which treated taxpayer’s money like their own.


“The former Prime Minister said this app would be our “sunscreen” against COVID-19 – all it did was burn through taxpayer’s money. 


“This failed app only found two unique positive COVID cases at the cost of more than $10 million each.


“It was contact tracers working on the ground who were the real success story, not this failed app.


“It is clear this app failed as a public health measure and that’s why we’ve acted to delete it.”


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