The Australian government's attempt to stem the flow of junk e-mail has been passed into law by the country's parliament. But the legislation, passed last week, has come under fire from opposition politicians who believe a wide range of exemptions in the anti-spam laws favour certain interest groups. Under the new legislation, spammers can be fined A$1.1 million (about HK$6.3 million) for each day that messages are sent. The law also bans the sending of commercial e-mails unless there is consent from the recipient or the e-mails are sent as part of an existing business relationship. The new anti-spamming law could provide a model for Hong Kong, where the government is considering legislation in response to pressure from the local IT industry and the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta). The Australian legislation will be enforced by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA), a government regulator. The authority's acting chairman, Bob Horton, said his organisation would work with industry to enforce the legislation. Mr Horton told the media earlier this month that the ACA 'would be working with industry to develop appropriate codes for registration, and to investigate spamming and ensure code compliance'. Mr Horton emphasised that the powers he has under the law - such as levying fines, issuing formal warnings, seeking court injunctions and sending out infringement notices - would be used in the last resort. 'Enforcement of the new anti-spam law will be based on encouragement to comply,' Mr Horton said. The law will be reviewed in two years' time to gauge its adequacy. Australia produces about 3 per cent of the world's spam. All those involved in the spam legislation debate acknowledge the new law is not a cure-all, but what has outraged opposition politicians is the issue of exemptions from the law allowed by the conservative government, led by Prime Minister John Howard. Under the law only commercial spam is outlawed; political parties, religious organisations and charities can still use spam to reach people. Senator Brian Greig, who is at the forefront of the spam debate and belongs to the left-leaning Australian Democrats, said the law was 'clumsy and flawed'. Mr Greig told the media last month that under the law 'a religious organisation can spam everyone by asking for donations to its anti-abortion campaign, but a pro-choice organisation would not be permitted the same right'. He believes the law should ban all spam, whether it was 'pushing Viagra, votes or the Vatican'. Australian Labor Party's Kate Lundy, the key opposition spokesperson on the law, has unsuccessfully moved for amendments to the legislation that would have required all commercial e-mails to contain a functional unsubscribe facility. Minister for Communications Daryl Williams, the sponsor of the legislation, said it was not a 'silver bullet' but a key element in the government's approach to spam. Other elements include intentional agreements, public education and industry codes of practice, he said.