MOSCOW, December 2 (Sputnik) — The Australian lower house has backed a third expansion to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's counter-terrorism package, granting intelligence agents a sweeping new power to collect intel on foreign fighters without the approval of a senior minister, Australian Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The new legislation enables the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) to "gather intelligence on foreign fighters overseas without having to wait for written approval by a senior minister," APP said.
Similar powers have also been granted to the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organization and the Australian Signals Directorate. They will only be valid for a couple of days and in "extreme emergencies".
This came after the Australian government said the existing regulations prevented it from taking urgent measures when fighting Islamic State (IS) insurgency, which relies on the foreign fighters in its struggle against government and allied western forces in Syria and Iraq.
The new law will also help the Australian Federal Police seek control orders – orders stopping a person from going to certain areas, communicating with certain people or carrying out certain activities – for individuals suspected of supporting foreign fighters.
The opposition Labor party endorsed the bill after the government agreed to exclude a torture permit from the list of ASIS powers, something it was opposed to while the legislation was still in the Senate.
This is the third tranche of counter-terrorism bills pressed through by the Abbott administration in an attempt to defeat the IS radicalism. Young people from a number of countries, including Germany, Austria and Australia, have reportedly travelled to Syria to fight for the jihadist group.