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Australia to Witness New Intelligence Laws By Sweeping Older Ones

Australian intelligence laws to be reviewed

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Australia's Defense Minister Marise Payne (L-R), China's PLA Lieutenant-General He Lei and Canada's Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan listens to U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis' address at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018. VOA

Australia’s intelligence laws are to be reviewed in the most comprehensive overhaul of national security legislation in decades.

The review will take 18 months and will be led by a former spy chief. It will be the most comprehensive review of Australia’s intelligence laws since the 1970s. Much of its terms of reference are being kept secret but officials say the shake-up will look at how information is shared among the nation’s six security and intelligence agencies, as well with other law enforcement bodies.

Analysts say the review is long overdue with existing laws designed for a previous era. They say the review would likely address the main threats facing Australia; terrorism, cyber-warfare and influence by foreign powers.

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Law books, Representational image, Pixabay

Australia’s federal Attorney-General Christian Porter says the overhaul will help to integrate the various agencies that keep the nation safe.

“The control, direction and coordination of all of these agencies, and the way they interact with non-intelligence agencies and state-based agencies, such as state police forces. It is looking at how we share information and whether or not that can be improved on.It is looking at the overall staffing and resourcing, so it has a very holistic approach, and the other thing it will look at is accountability and oversight,” said Porter.

The review comes amid rising fears in Australia over the influence of China in its domestic affairs.

Earlier this week media reports detailed allegations apparently contained in a top-secret report that China has attempted to influence Australia’s political parties for the past decade, as well as every level of government.

Beijing has previously accused Australia of being anti-China.

Last year the Australian government introduced new foreign interference laws into federal parliament, which, if passed, would put a ban on all overseas political donations. In January, Australian opposition Senator Sam Dastyari was forced to resign over alleged links to Chinese authorities.

Also read: More than 200 Commonwealth Games Athletes Seek Asylum in Australia and 50 go missing

Australia’s National Terrorism Threat Level remains set at “probable,” which means security agencies believe that individuals or groups have the intent and capability to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia. (VOA)

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Supreme Court Directs Louisiana from Enforcing New Regulations on Abortion Clinics

The justices could decide this spring whether to add the case to their calendar for the term that begins in October.

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The sun flares in the camera lens as it rises behind the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, June 25, 2017. VOA

A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights.

The justices said by a 5-4 vote late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in putting a hold on the law, pending a full review of the case.

President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among the four conservative members of the court who would have allowed the law to take effect.

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If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. If they fail, they could return to court, Kavanaugh said. Pixabay

Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said the court’s action was premature because the state had made clear it would allow abortion providers an additional 45 days to obtain admitting privileges before it started enforcing the law.

If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. If they fail, they could return to court, Kavanaugh said.

The law is very similar to a Texas measure the justices struck down three years ago. Roberts dissented in that case.

But the composition of the court has changed since then, with Kavanaugh replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to strike down the Texas law. Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint “pro-life” justices, and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions.

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A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortion rights. Pixabay

Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who initially heard the case said one or maybe two of the state’s three abortion clinics would have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.

But the federal appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and saying the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.

In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the Supreme Court appeal.

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The law had been scheduled to take effect Monday, but Justice Samuel Alito delayed the effective date at least through Thursday to give the justices more time. He and Justice Clarence Thomas were the other dissenters Thursday.

The justices could decide this spring whether to add the case to their calendar for the term that begins in October.

The case is June Medical Services v. Gee. (VOA)