Fact Check One Nation
Fact Checking our way through Pauline Hanson's One nation policies

Policy 5 - Surveillance cameras to be installed in Mosques and schools. Mosques to be open to the public during all opening hours

One Nation's intention to install surveillance cameras in all Mosques and Islamic schools would be an unacceptable invasion of the privacy of members of Australia's Muslim community.

 

Such surveillance would inhibit the capacity of Muslims' to practice their religion in safety and privacy. This is incompatible with the open values of multiculturalism that underpin modern Australian society. Further, it is highly likely that an attempt to do this would be inconsistent with the restriction on the making of laws "prohibiting the free exercise of any religion" in section 116 of the Constitution. 

 

Serious questions also surround who would monitor these security cameras and what information could be retained. In general circumstances, unnecessary surveillance and retention of personal information by Commonwealth personnel, such as personally identifying video footage, would likely be prohibited under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). This act relevantly provides that a practice of a Commonwealth agency is an interference with privacy if it breaches an Australian Privacy Principle in relation to personal information about the individual.

 

Most relevantly, a Commonwealth agency must not collect personal information unless the information is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, one or more of the entity's functions or activities. While various means to exempt such surveillance exist, particularly if carried out in response to genuine security concerns, it is inconceivable that the conspiracy theories touted by One Nation about an imaginary pan-Islamic totalitarian agenda could form a sufficient basis for a plausible argument that it is "reasonably necessary for, or directly related to" the functions or activities of any government agency. Serious and repeated interferences with privacy are punished with significant fines, consistent with societal expectations about government invasiveness and harassment.

 

As with all private property, the owners and operators of Australia's mosques are fully entitled to make decisions about who can enter and when. However, One Nation's proposal to require mosques to allow all the public to enter during opening hours is fundamentally misconceived. Mosques are already welcoming community institutions. Attached to many mosques are sport and recreational facilities that are used by the community at large. Compliance with a request that entrants to the mosque itself respect basic Islamic norms, such as the removal of shoes, is a courtesy that cannot reasonably be withheld by non-Muslims.