On the campaign trail in Dunedin North with Victor Billot

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Archive for October 2008

Shootout at the 60 second corral

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Tonight the smaller parties had their TV ads. I didn’t bother listening to the National and Labour ads last night because I have a low tolerance level for self-serving tripe. Also because I find the new make up job they have done on Helen terrifying, and I can’t stand it when she lies and claims Labour started Kiwibank when at the time of its introduction she basically laughed at it.

As for Key . . . well, the less said the better.

All the smaller parties were on tonight, jammed together in a one hour segment that was probably watched by about seven people. TVNZ should have been forced to distribute the ads throughout normal advertising times in regular programming. Isn’t that what they used to do?

One thing I noticed is that the non-parliamentary parties all seemed to have better ads than the main parties. Here is my review of the night. In the interests of fairness, I don’t review the Alliance Party ad – but I am pretty stoked with it.


Another advertising disaster for the Greens. Despite their copious cash and supposed platoons of hip inner city creative types, how do they manage to get it so wrong? 

The first seven seconds of their ad was the highly produced, branded and slick extract where the young girl is standing by the harbour. So far, so good. Trite, emotional, but nonetheless picking up votes.

Then suddenly everything grinds to a halt. We are inflicted with close up, wavering headshots of Green Party MPs staring into the camera with an air of desperation. Russell Norman wanders past in a bizarre camel-coloured suit with a karitane yellow tie, dragging a refuse bin across a lawn. More close up footage of Green Party teeth – dental care policies should be a priority here. Many pictures of trains. Keith Locke is the only one who comes across as vaguely convincing. A video game soundtrack bleeps in the background. Graphics and production poor. Teeth grindingly bad.


New Zealand First

Winston spends his allocation in a rambling monologue about the media and other shadowy forces working against him. However now that the National Party have foolishly cut him off, he has tacked left on economics. What were they thinking? Winston would cut a deal with anyone. This shameless phoney would cut a deal with Lucifer to keep in the game, and probably come out ahead in the transaction.

The immigrant bashing has disappeared, Winston probably realizing he needs all the friends he can get these days. 

The theme from “Exodus” plays in the background while Winston tries hard not to burst out laughing at his own outrageous chutzpah. 

The sad thing is that 5% of the population will swallow this codswallop and vote this Ageing Impresario back into Parliament.

2/10 for content, 8/10 for sheer nerve

Maori Party

Pita Sharples as Billy T. James. Probably the best soundtrack, sounds like Herbs jamming in Wairoa in 1983. Light on policy as always, lots of feel good rhetoric and all about what great things the new Maori capitalist class are doing. Not sure what this all means for the brothers stuck on the minimum wage but Pita is selling it good.

8/10 for feelgood reggae vibe, 1/10 for specifics


Impressively slick, although I preferred the old, round, cheery Rodney to the new slimmed down “power” Rodney. As predicted they go light on their 19th century economics and stick to crime and punishment. Dickens wrote novels about these type of people back in the day: mean, pinched, moralistic, in love with money.

The ad goes well until they kneecap themselves by wheeling out a ghastly vision from the past, a toothless, gibbering “Sir” Roger Douglas who looks like he has been pulled out of a retirement village and dosed up with cheap speed. He chews on his lips and raves on about the Government spending money (wasted on roads, schools and hospitals, no doubt). 

6/10 reduced to 3/10 after Mad Douglas appearance.

United Whatever.

High production values but Dunne AKA The White Rabbit is a wet. He pompously drones at the camera then the ad cuts to a random selection of vox pops of passersby saying whatever comes into their heads, which may or may not reflect United policy. Apparently they keep the major parties honest, which is a bold claim considering they have absolutely failed to do this whatsoever in their entire existence. Their logo resembles a defecating PacMan.

No rating, not worth effort.

Jim Anderton’s Jim Anderton Party.

Jim presents an updated version of the Mainland Cheese ad. He talks about how his experience has taught him a few things. Good things take time, over the years he’s picked up a few tips for you young folk. Once again, it’s all about Jim, everyone’s boring great uncle who wants to set you straight about how it all works. 

Jim really has a super opinion of himself, which is of course the only reason he doesn’t rejoin the Labour Party, because then there would be other egos to get in the way.

What will the Progressive Party do when Jim is no longer there to guide them? Probably wander off in sheep like fashion. Baaa! Baaa!


The Family Party

Probably the most well-produced ad (of course I’m not reviewing the Alliance ad here.) Super slick but absolutely bizarre. A heavy metal soundtrack features heavy looking dudes in leather jackets wandering around at night time in what looks like downtown Chicago. May attract 18 year old males but will terrify everyone else. They look like exactly the type of people they claim they want to lock up or convert to the Destiny Church or whatever wacko cult/pyramid selling scheme they subscribe to.

Remarkable that this hard right, fundamentalist, anti-youth culture organization has produced a Shihad video for their election address.

9/10 for presentation, 0/10 for appeal to their fellow fundamentalists.

Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party

Professional appeal from the mullet-coiffed leader Appleby to give them your protest vote, and a few wacky graphics showing a picture of a petrol station pumping hemp oil. How anyone could devote their energy in life to this is beyond me but a perfectly acceptable advertisement.



RAM go for the downhome appeal with a man in a paper-mache mask scaring children in a Four Square and a bluegrass soundtrack  that sounds like the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Would be more convincing if I didn’t know that 90% of their candidates are revolutionaries masquerading as middle of the road reformists as part of some weird new strategy. Oh well.

RAM the LabNats is a slogan that needs some more work.


Workers Party

A relatively smooth presentation from New Zealand’s revolutionary communists who at least admit they are revolutionary communists.

However I am disappointed that the Workers Party seem to be suffering from a bashful approach to electioneering, and don’t get down to nitty gritty with a blow by blow video presentation of the final showdown between the proletariat and the boss class complete with armed militias, secret police and burning buildings. They seem to be going a little soft: could a compromise sell out be on the cards? Watch this space.


Democrats for Social Credit

Anodyne presentation, marks off for the ludicrous flying turkey that appears on all their advertising.


Written by Victor

October 11, 2008 at 9:51 am

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And the winner on the night . . . was apathy

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A low turnout. Despite the creditable organizing efforts of local CTU volunteers to get the meeting together, there was a smaller crowd than in the 2005 forum, of around 30 or so local unionists. The Labour Party should take this as a warning sign. If the pro-Labour unions can only summon up this kind of audience, then it is a bad omen for them.

Unlike Christchurch or Wellington, the Otago CTU invited the Alliance to speak. I still can’t believe that ACT was invited to workers forums elsewhere and the Alliance were turned away. Incredible.

Anyway to be honest there was a flat vibe and it only moved into second gear towards the end. However I will for the sake of thoroughness review the other candidates performance. As always I will not rank myself, in the interests of fairness.

Mr Smooth, AKA Michael Woodhouse (National, Dunedin North) impressed with an oleaginous performance. He pitched perfectly to the crowd, dropping in a few welltimed sentimental notes about his family origins, defusing any sign of conflict with a paced patter, and is already developing a trademark device to smother tough questions, which is to pose one back to the audience. 

The Technocrat, AKA Pete Hodgson (Labour, Dunedin North), is approaching this election devoid of any sense of urgency. Dry monotone like the rustling of autumn leaves, the audience was transfixed with boredom.

The Earnest Liberal, AKA Clare Curran (Labour, Dunedin South) used her public relations background to accurately point out how Mr Smooth was manipulating language to present a nice, friendly version of the National Party. However she was doing the same thing about the Labour Party, which kind of undermined her good point.

Save the Snail, AKA Shane Montague-Gallagher (Greens, Dunedin South) spent the entire meeting nervously going over his policies after a challenge from the floor flumoxxed him. However he kindly kept pouring everyone glasses of water which says something for him, probably that he is a new candidate. I didn’t bother to point out the glasses were non-recyclable plastic. 

All in all a pretty tepid night. National continues to sleep walk to victory with no policies and a banal smirk for a leader.

Written by Victor

October 7, 2008 at 9:12 am

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Giving pragmatic conservatism a bad name

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The 6 October 2008 issue of Critic has a lengthy article about the Dunedin North candidates including Mr Michael Woodhouse, the National Party candidate, who is CEO of a local private hospital. Mr Woodhouse is obviously the type of leader that New Zealand needs, as displayed by his following published comments:

“I would call myself a pragmatic conservative . . . when I was here [at uni] it was a competition of who could dress down the most . . . Now it’s a bloody fashion show . . . I love spring around here, it’s bloody fantastic, the skirts were never this short in my day.”

“Better not print that,” he added.

Written by Victor

October 6, 2008 at 10:47 am

Unions Otago Forum

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Unlike Christchurch and Wellington where the local CTU has shamefully excluded trade unionists running for the Alliance from debates in favour of ACT Party candidates (pure genius!), in Dunedin the Alliance has always been welcome to speak at CTU forums.

I believe I will be the only trade unionist candidate addressing the meeting, as I work for the Maritime Union.

Tuesday 7 October at 7pm at the Burns Hall, First Church – see you there!

Written by Victor

October 6, 2008 at 9:49 am

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The South will rise again?

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You are being watched from afar . . .

You are being watched from afar . . .

I am not a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings but was impressed by Peter Jackson’s visualization of the “powers of darkness” and especially the “Eye of Sauron”. Well the “Eye of Sauron” has turned its throbbing and bloodshot gaze on my little blog . . . in the form of a broadside from one of the intellectual heavy hitters of our conservative intellectual tradition Mr Clint Heine, who in addition to a charming way with words also has a great name that sounds, well, very right wing. 


A hysterical and vicious Hard Right political network has grown into existence in recent years based on the blogosphere and one loud, slightly unhinged digital voice blarping and braying over the herd of angry finance students is that of Clint. His point of difference is he not only hates anyone who has a concern for other human beings (or as he refers to them, communists) but he now also hates Dunedin.

Clint claims he was a “playboy” during his time in Dunedin, an image that causes a shudder. Playboy probably translates as one of the drunken, emotionally incontinent slobs who arrive in town to “sink some piss” for their tenure and generally bring the vibe down for us locals. Anyway I don’t know, as I’ve never met Clint socially, but he seems to be slightly to the Right of Pinochet, and he is scared that Dunedin is going to elect a radical left winger one of these days.

It’s bad that Clint is scared. As we all know, Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering . . .

Written by Victor

October 6, 2008 at 9:32 am

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What is the difference between the Greens and the Alliance?

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I have an interesting debate going on at g.blog, a Green Party blog, on the differences between the Alliance and Greens taxation policy, courtesy of Luke Stewart of the Greens who approached me with a friendly challenge.

This is one for all those people who ask me what is the difference between the Alliance and Greens?

This is especially one for Alliance supporters currently hiding out in the Greens.

Written by Victor

October 5, 2008 at 12:56 pm

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Speech at the Great Tertiary Education Debate

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The Alliance supports free education.

We stand for the following policies:

Removal of tuition fees.

Abolition of the Student Loans Scheme and the immediate writing off of all loans.

A living allowance for all students at the level of the Unemployment Benefit.

Increased funding for public tertiary institutions, especially regional polytechnics, and provide adequate funding for libraries.

Cutting funding to private, profit-making tertiary providers.

Prioritising New Zealand public tertiary institutions over multinational education providers.

The Alliance Party agrees with the policy of NZUSA.

Our policies, unlike National’s tax cuts for the rich, are affordable. They are realistic. They are fully costed.

Free education can be paid for by progressive taxation. Those on low incomes pay less tax. Those on above average incomes like myself pay a little more. Those on high incomes like John Key pay somewhat more. With Alliance, John will still be able to afford his holiday home in Hawaii, and the young people of New Zealand get a free education.

We are all supposed to swoon in gratitude that after nine years the Labour Government has cooked up a generous offer, five weeks out from a general election.

This is like being mugged by someone who steals your wallet but leaves you the bus fare home.

Now we have a thoroughly dishonest National Party pretending they can hand out free money to everyone on the wrong end of a global financial meltdown, and not charge more for education and health.

I am happy to answer questions on the details.

But I would like to make a personal case as to why I support free education.

My first year studying at the tertiary level was in 1990 so I feel I have grown up with user pays education. I was at the University Registry over the road here the day police batoned students who were peacefully gathered in front of the building to protest user pays.

My observation is the generations who grew up in times of war and depression created a society which despite many flaws attempted to provide security and stability.

But the generation who benefited from these policies, the post war generation, did not pass on what they had received.

The inter-generational contract was broken.

John Key and Helen Clark are both leaders of the privileged post war generation who have rewarded their own generation and class, at the expense of the next generation.

The Fourth Labour Government destroyed free education in New Zealand in 1989. The succeeding National and Labour Governments have left students, many of whom are young people, with a crushing mountain of debt.

This has impacted most severely on those from low income backgrounds, women and minority groups.

Many of my generation have found out the hard way what student debt means. The sad fact is most teenagers attending tertiary education for the first time do not understand the implications of debt. In many cases neither do their parents. Especially, once again, if they do not come from the privileged level of society.

Many young people today did not experience the economic troubles of the 1980s and 1990s. We are about to plunge into a history defining depression. What will happen when the jobs dry up and the debt is still there? We will see a convergence of debt, of student loans, private loans and credit card debt and unaffordable mortgages. We are heading for a crunch and there are going to be a lot of people badly hurt.

What have I noticed? People waiting to have families until they are financially secure, because that is what you are supposed to do. To pay off the debt. To buy the house.

Some wait too long and now they will never have families.

My wife, who comes from a provincial freezing works family, came to University in her late twenties. Her life savings went into paying for her education. Because she is a woman she is financially disadvantaged if she wishes to have a family which requires time away from the workforce. User pays education is especially unfair to women, who are expected to be both childbearers and workers in a society where the two income family is the norm.

In a few months I am going to become a parent for the first time. I would like to be part of a generation that reforges the contract we have with our society, with our next generation. I do not want my child to grow up in a selfish, harsh place. I believe my generation have been let down. I believe we have to do better for the next generation. That is the choice we have to make.

Some people seem to think that running a country is like running a business.

I believe that organizing a society, organizing a nation, is like having a family. You don’t do it make a profit.

In my family, my parents went the extra mile for me. Shouldn’t we be doing that as a society? Going the extra mile for our young people?

Aren’t we all part of a larger family, a larger community? When I look around here, I don’t see competitors or economic production units. I see my fellow citizens.

It seems to me as if there are two voices in this debate. There is the voice that says, what do I care about anyone else? It’s my money. I want to hide away and watch my thirty inch plasma TV behind locked doors. 

Then there is the other voice, the voice of our better selves, which quietly says why are we here? We are here to help one another.

This isn’t just a matter of maths. It’s also about listening to that better voice.

Free education, barrier fee education, is right. It is economically right, it is socially right, and it is morally right.

To achieve free education, we need to stop pretending that asking National or Labour nicely is going to work. It hasn’t worked in the last twenty years. Maybe it’s time we changed tactics and realized who our friends are.

I invite you to vote for the Alliance Party for free education. If everyone in New Zealand who agreed with our policies did this, we would be back in Parliament, and we would be making a difference. It’s time to support the people who will support you.

Written by Victor

October 4, 2008 at 3:46 am

The Great Tertiary Debate – my rankings

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Today was the first real debate of the season. The Great Tertiary Debate was held as part of the NZUSA national students conference at the Dunedin College of Education Auditorium today at 3pm.

I arrived early after a hectic day getting radio and print advertising sorted out, and getting in some work on the Maritime Union magazine I edit as well. Student delegates from throughout New Zealand were milling around and I spoke to a few which was fun and relaxing as they were a pretty mellow bunch.

On to the debate. Well, we all know there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to get onto the panel but I am pleased to say NZUSA did me right in the end. Lined up were Conway Powell (National, Dunedin South), Hilary Calvert (ACT, Dunedin North), Joe Burton (United spokesperson), Meteria Turei (Greens, Dunedin North), Pete Hodgson (Labour, Dunedin North), and a woman who had travelled up from Invercargill for the Maori Party, whose name I didn’t catch in full (hope to update this when I find out.)

The debate was run smoothly enough with the two NZUSA co-prezzes on site and Marian Simms from the Pols Department adding her inimitable dry Aussie humour to her duties as Chair.

And of course yours truly.

Here are the results, once again in the interests of fairness I have not rated myself but have uploaded my speech to You tube for you to rate it yourself. (E-democracy?)

Conway Powell (B-)

Mr Conway, as the Otago Daily Times refer to him, must be the unluckiest candidate on the planet. Not only did National send him into Dunedin South where he has fruitlessly doorstepped every pensioner in the vain hope of finding a stray vote, they then put him at number 563 on their list. Cruel blow follows cruel blow.

Now the Tories latest insult to Mr Conway is to send him along to get a pounding at a student forum, probably to let Mr Smooth, their Dunedin North candidate, off the hook so he doesn’t tarnish his John Key Lite image. (John Key Lite – yes, it is possible. Lite lite.)

Anyway Mr Conway knew he was on to a loser from the start and tried to jolly along the audience, even at the expense of making jokes at his own Party’s lack of policy on anything. Maybe he is beginning to sense he has been left out as sharkbait. Conway is a nice guy, and as we all know, in the National Party Universe, nice guys finish last. However God loves a trier and CP is certainly that. We grade him on his sincere but plodding efforts.

Hilary Calvert (-9000%)

I don’t usually give out complete failures, but since the ACT Party want to return to traditional pass/fail educational standards, I feel I can make an exception in this case.

Hilary gave the worst presentation possible. Even I was surprised at her total, resounding lack of any clues about how to deal with this debate. 

I will ignore her politics entirely, for I simply fail to understand how any civilized, modern human being could subscribe to such a half-baked mash of gruesome social darwinism and basic gut-level greed worship. So it would be unfair of me to judge her on her politics.

On her presentation, however, some basic notes:

1. Do not start your speech by telling everyone how they will probably disagree with you. In ACT Party language, a loser attitude will get you a loser result.

2. Do not tell your audience they are stealing money off taxidrivers and grannies. This indicates a sort of political self-destruction urge.

3. Try to find common ground with the audience and present your philosophy as motivated by some kind of positive vibe that connects you with the human race, rather than Nietzsche without the sense of humour.

4. Do not repeat tired cliches like money doesn’t grow on trees or there is no free lunch, because people resent being talked to like they are thickos.

This was always going to be a tough debate for ACT, but someone like Rodney Hide would have bulldozed his way through like a rhino on steroids. Oh well. 

Pete Hodgson (Must try harder, just coasting)

Skeletor” was only going through the motions today. 

His speech only featured a few of his characteristic snarls at the audience and his habit of using punctuation marks in his sentences is becoming increasingly strange.

(i.e Vote for Labour, brackets, vote for Pete Hodgson, close brackets, comma, ampersand, full stop.)

He gave a depressingly empty explanation of why the Government was subsidizing Cadbury’s to set up their new chocolate crumb facility in Dunedin, although I would have picked Pete as more of a compulsive minty TicTac chomper than a chocolate crumb man.

However Pete was in a chipper mood beforehand with the other candidates and is probably looking forward to his relaxing new job as opposition spokesperson for veterinary affairs.

Joe Burton (PhD candidate)

Joe Burton is the United pointsman in Dunedin. A highly qualified Englishman, quietly spoken and personally likeable, Joe’s main problem is that he is in the wrong party. I believe this is dawning on him slowly.

Metiria Turei (7.6 feelgood vibes)

Metiria was her usual cheery self and had loads of supporters with those stupid “I only date boys who vote Green” stickers. No wonder they all look like depressed vegans.

Trouble is with these greenies is none of them actually seem to realize that to fund the Green promises you would have to completely reverse capitalism, which would result in a massive backlash from the rulers. 

The Greens would last about as long as the Happy Valley Snail under a coal truck in such circumstances, because they don’t seem to have any appreciation of these political realities. Why can’t we all just get along, maan?

I actually challenged Meteria on this point during the debate, as to where they were getting their cash from. I think her answer was a little bit of a porky actually because I am still to see any convincing taxation policy from the Greens.

However that’s why I’m not a Green and it was obvious that the liberal hippy crew loves the brand. And of course, it’s hard to dislike these shaggy peaceniks. Hell, some of my best friends are Greens, including my old mate Quentin Jamieson who lives with his tribe of kids and organic chickens next to a swamp in downtown Karamea. (Now that’s a real Green!)

The people who really irk me are ex-Alliance voters who are fudging around supporting the Greens because they don’t have the spine to get back where they should be in a proper democratic socialist party like us. However, some of my best friends are also Alliance refugees hiding in the Greens until someone else does all the hard work of getting the Alliance steaming along again. We’ll get there. But it would be a lot quicker if you guys saw the light . . . 

Maori Party candidate (Pass)

I can’t remember this ladies name, but she was from Invercargill (that’s a start). She had a nice demeanour, seemed genuine and had her heart in the right place.

Politically though I thought she didn’t really have a clue about anything and to be honest I can’t actually recall anything much she said about policies. If the Maori Party cut a deal with National, they deserve nothing but disdain for selling out their people.

Finally I was pleased to see the Jim Anderton’s Hi I’m Jim Anderton and I used to be a relevant politician and this is my little kingdom the Progressive Party flunking out as usual, they couldn’t even get someone to the debate. They are probably too embarrassed by their hideous new website to show their faces in public.

Written by Victor

October 3, 2008 at 11:34 am

Pete Hodgson moves to the left

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Labour Minister Pete Hodgson has reconsidered after hearing me today at the Tertiary Student Forum in Dunedin. Well, no actually, but it is a good photo.

Written by Victor

October 3, 2008 at 7:50 am

Fun and games at the University Union

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I get invited to most debates in Dunedin. Community forums, unions, even church groups invite me along. But we seem to have real problems getting our voice heard at student events.

That’s right. You heard. Wild crazy students, radical longhairs chanting for the destruction of Western Civilization. Well, once upon a time.

Apart from a few slightly hazy protests about dope smoking (not really the most pressing issue) it seems students just ain’t interested these days. It would help if the Students Association did some serious advertising and ran proper multi-party forums and this is an issue I took up today.

I went along today to the University forum thinking there was going to be a mass debate due to a particularly confusing poster. Unfortunately it was just ex-United MP Judy Turner, a nice lady who sympathized all the poor students while explaining how she was going to “incrementally” change things. The only incremental thing I can see is a $10 billion student debt, it’s getting incrementally bigger while everyone says how terrible it is, but won’t actually do anything about it.

Well that’s all well and good but my point here is that I was not invited to speak at these forums. Despite being told by the current Student Prez that I “added something to the debates” earlier in the year, it seems perhaps I was adding too much because it looks like I got left out. Oh, yes, that’s right, we only want “parliamentary parties” to tell us about how great student fees are, even if they have no local candidates, no local profile and have done absolutely nothing except piddle around the edges or even work against free education.

What a waste of a plane fare! She had to come all the way from Auckland to speak to 20 people. Most of whom were eating their lunch, sprinkled with a few Alliance and Green supporters and a table of bright eyed and bushy tailed Labour Party youth hacks working busily on their future careers as professional yes men in Wellington.

So I took up the issue with the Student Prez there and then, in a fairly direct manner.

I look forward to my invite to speak at Otago University.

We’ll wait and see.

Written by Victor

October 1, 2008 at 1:55 am

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