The Senate committee on the government’s Covid response is questioning bureaucrats from Services Australia and the Digital Transformation Agency.
Most of the discussion has been about how Australians will be able to access their immunisation record through a digital vaccination certificate, and how this will work with state check-in apps.
The department said the process would work by allowing people to consent to share their digital immunisation record with state and territories, and these would be incorporated into the QR codes currently used.
This would be done through the Medicare app, where users would consent to share their vaccination record with the states and territories of their choosing.
Charles McHardie from Services Australia said the government had taken this approach to avoid customers having to use multiple apps when checking in to venues.
“Our approach has been, particularly for high volume venues, to reduce friction on both staff in those venues and also friction for customers, to leverage the current check-in apps that all of the jurisdictions currently have,” McHardie said.
“Our view was, let’s integrate the capability that we have here in Services Australia in being able to prove that a citizen has been vaccinated and integrate that into the state-based check-in apps.”
However, the Labor senator Kimberley Kitching said this would mean visitors to Australia would need “eight different apps” if they were travelling around the country, given each state has a different check-in system.
The committee also questioned Services Australia about the use of “vaccine passports”, which the One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts said amounted to the department trying to “coerce the mandating of vaccines”.
The Services Australia chief executive Rebecca Skinner objected to the term “vaccination passport”, saying Services Australia was not developing such an application.
“We are enabling citizens to consent to provide their immunisation record to a state for integration in the check-in app,” Skinner said.
“How that check-in app is used and what is required for citizens in certain states is set by the state against their health orders.”