Data retention laws pass Senate
The controversial data retention bill has become law, as both Liberal and Labor voted for the legislation in the upper house. The new law means telecommunication providers will be obliged to store call and web log data for two years. Intelligence agencies will be able to access the information. Both major parties believe the laws will play a key role in helping officials with terrorism and serious crime investigations. Taxpayers will be partly responsible for the costs of retaining the data.
Malcolm Fraser’s final farewell
A state funeral for former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was held at Melbourne’s Scots Church on Friday. The 22nd Prime Minster died at 84 years of age after a brief illness. The funeral was open for family, friends and the public. Attendees included Tony Abbott and former prime ministers Julia Gillard, John Howard and Paul Keating. Mr Fraser was appointed caretaker prime minister in 1975 after Gough Whitlam’s famous dismissal.
Parliament to investigate ice epidemic
The Joint Committee on Law Enforcement is set to hold public hearings in July on the growing problem of crystal methamphetamine, or ice. The Crime Commission this week released a report on the drug and its abuse within Australian communities, saying that ice poses the greatest risk of all illicit drugs in Australia and that government must work with law enforcement, industry and the community to combat its spread. The report also warns that organised crime groups are including other illicit drugs in their ice to increase addiction, and that many users are consuming ice at the same time as other substances such as alcohol. Ice is now the dominant form of methamphetamine in Australia, with imports of the drug and chemicals used to make it increasing since 2010.
Cane toads could be turned into lucrative export market
Scientists from the University of Queensland have discovered anti-cancer properties in cane toad venom. It has been proposed to commodify the toads as an export good for China; millions would be sent over to be squeezed and liquified. It would then be blended with herbs and taken as medication. Chinese buyers were “queuing up” for the national pest, according to Harendra Parekh, from the university’s school of pharmacy. Hopes to develop the product into a tablet form would attract companies in the multi-billion-dollar Chinese traditional medicine market.
Lights off tomorrow night
Millions of people across the world are expected to turn off their lights, TV sets and other electricity dependent devices to observe Earth Hour on Saturday from 8.30pm to 9.30pm Eastern Daylight Time. The annual WWF event, which aims to raise awareness of climate change, is in its 9th year and runs across 172 countries and territories worldwide. This year participants have been invited to share their Earth Hour events and experiences online using the hashtag #YourPower. – Compiled from news sources by Lily Mayers, Alison Cheung and Jake Nelson
Top photo from R2hox’s Flickr photostream.