Liu granted residency by O’Connor the day before the 2005 election

July 3rd, 2014 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A former Labour Minister intervened three times in the immigration bid of Donghua Liu including waiving the English language requirement for the millionaire businessman.

Damien O’Connor, in his role as the associate Immigration Minister, wrote three letters to Liu’s advisor Warren Kyd – the former National Party MP – before deciding to grant residency against the advice of officials the day before the 2005 election.

This is highly unusual timing. Why would you make the decision the day before the election? Most Mnisters will only make the most urgent of decisions once the election campaign is on, and Parliament has risen.

Even more unusual is that Damien O’Connor was fighting for his political life is a marginal seat. To take time out from campaigning the day before the election, and instead doing non-urgent ministerial work is very odd.

The West Coast MP has said he cannot remember why he granted residency to the businessman whose links to both National and Labour have created political waves this year.

Surely he remembers a case so compelling that he felt he had to make the decision on what could have been his last day as the Minister.

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What is “nasty” about building a bridge?

July 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A bizarre rant by Damien O’Connor. The Herald reports:

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said over the weekend the party was targeting some Labour-held seats it believed were vulnerable, including West Coast-Tasman.

The party followed that with the announcement from the National Party conference yesterday that the Government planned to spend $10-15 million replacing the Taramakau Bridge, and $20-25 million improving Mingha Bluff, the last winding section of road on the Arthur’s Pass highway.

A press release announcing both road projects was issued yesterday — jointly in the name of the retiring party list MP Mr Auchinvole, and National’s candidate Maureen Pugh.

Mr O’Connor said it was “pork-barrel politics”, and to be expected.

“I expected the campaign to be quite dirty and nasty,” Mr O’Connor said today.

“Indications are, that’s where it is unfortunately.”

One can certainly criticise the roading projects as pork-barrel politics. I have no dispute with people characterising it as that.

But how on earth is that the sign of the campaign being “dirty” or “nasty”. O’Connor’s speech in Parliament against Gerry Brownlee was personal and nasty. But funding a bridge is not dirty or nasty. O’Connor is trying to make himself a victim.

My interpretation of O’Connor’s statements is that he intends to run a dirty nasty campaign, and is trying to convince people National is doing the same.

But I genuinely can not comprehend how anyone can rationally call a bridge funding decision dirty and nasty. It’s just hysteria.

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Two Labour MPs vote for common sense

June 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Around 20,000 hectares of forest was felled by Cyclone Ita in April and a law change was required to allow beech, rimu, totara and matai trees to be harvested on the conservation estate — on the condition that they were taken outside classified areas and used for finished products and not firewood or wood chips.

The bill was debated under urgency and was expected to pass into law last night. In its early stages it was supported by National, New Zealand First, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour MPs.

Labour’s West Coast MP Damien O’Connor and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene went against their party by voting in support, but had sought amendments to make sure profits stayed within the immediate community.

O’Connor would have probably lost his seat if he didn’t cross the floor. But the fact he was unable to persuade his party to side with the interest of West Coasters ahead of the Green Party, shows he has little influence.

In opening the debate, Conservation Minister Nick Smith said there was no reason to leave the fallen timber untouched.

“This country is not so wealthy that it can allow beautiful, valuable, native timber to be left to rot.”

Opposition parties wanted the law change to be put out for public consulation, but Dr Smith said urgency was needed because the beech trees would spoil quickly.

The minister tried to reassure Green critics who worried about the removal of crucial nutrients from the forest ecosystem, saying that only a fraction of the 20,000 hectares of felled forest would be removed and “oodles” of biomass would remain “for the bugs and slugs to consume”.

Best of both worlds.

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A Labour MP supports asset sales

March 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is scotching claims that it has struck a deal to sell parts of Solid Energy to Indian buyers, but says parts of the troubled mining company will be offloaded.

Meanwhile, Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor said he would support foreign buyers investing in inactive West Coast mines, even though he likened it to asset sales.

It’s good to have a Labour Mp say he supports an asset sale, but here’s the problem. Labour have in the past also sold assets – but only failing ones. They support selling a company after it has gone bust or near bust and cost the taxpayers millions. But they don’t support selling a company when it is profitable and taxpayers will get a good price for it. Instead they come up with policies to sabotage the share prices.

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Labour on Denniston

May 29th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Letter

 

How curious. Labour MP Damien O’Connor is writing to the Minister urging him to do whatever he can to get the mine approved, and to battle against Forest & Bird.

Yet Labour MP and environment spokesperson Maryan Street has said the coal should be left in the hole.

Typical Labour trying to be all things, for all people.

Can anyone from Labour answer the question. What is the official policy of the Labour Party of whether or not the Denniston mine should be approved?

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“Alternative Developments”

March 13th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A pre-asset-sale study in 2011 for the Government had highlighted over-optimistic coal price assumptions and questionable alternative fuels investments, which led ultimately to changes to the board and management, he said.

O’Connor said the previous government had supported Solid Energy as a sustainable business that was looking into alternative developments, while National saw it solely as a cash cow which could help it fund tax cuts.

Very nice of Damien to claim credit for the alternative developments which of course failed, and led to the increased debt. Solid Energy did not borrow money to pay dividends. Dividends come out of profits. Debt is used to fund “developments”.

This reinforces for me why the Government should not own commercially risky trading enterprises. If people want to fund “alternative developments” they should do so voluntarily as direct shareholders.

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Damien says Solid Energy to blame for Pike River!

November 8th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

Solid Energy is largely to blame for the “dumbing down” of mining industry standards that allowed the Pike River disaster to happen, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor says.

So does that mean Qantas was responsible for Erebus?

Solid Energy’s general manager of communications Vicki Blyth said she was shocked by Mr O’Connor’s comments.

“It’s appalling to suggest that Solid Energy is in any way to blame for what happened at Pike River.”

Ms Blyth said Solid Energy had benchmarked itself against international best practice for some time. It had made submissions to the previous review of mining regulations.

“That’s what we submitted to the Royal Commission. We fully support the recommendations and the commission’s proposals.”

A somewhat bizarre attack on Solid Energy.

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Go Bridgette

August 9th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogged:

Firstly kudos to Damien for raising a daughter who does indeed think for herself, and even better is willing to disagree with her dad in public.

Bridgette’s comments just reinforce for me, that this is just not an issue for hardly anyone under 35, and in fact many younger kiwis just can’t understand how some people are opposed.

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Dangerous dogs

January 24th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The pregnant owner of an American pitbull which attacked a young girl in Rotorua reportedly lunged at the dog to save the 9-year-old.

Stevie-Rebecca Shipgood, 9, suffered deep cuts to her head and arm after a neighbour’s American bulldog attacked her in Rotorua on Sunday.

The dog’s owner, who did not want to be named, said his partner was walking the 2-year-old dog, Riley, on a lead about 2.30pm on Te Ngae Rd near Puketawhero Park in Rotorua.

Dog attacks on children (and adults) are horrifying. Even putting aside the dangerous breeds, even the nicest domesticated animal can lash out in certain circumstances. Normally it requires significant provocation, but for some animals it requires none. Plus of course, some animals can not do a great deal of harm as they are so small.

The last Government did a knee-jerk response to the issue with micro-chipping. As far as I can tell, it has made no difference at all. Sadly they seem to be equally knee-jerk now, with Damien O’Connor blogging at Red Alert:

It is about time we stopped pussyfooting around and advocated and implemented the destruction of any dog and breed of dog that is considered dangerous in New Zealand.

Is Damien really advocating that the Government pro-actively shoot every dog in New Zealand that is considered dangerous?

I tend to think dog owners are as much an issue, as the dogs themselves. Not in every case, such as the one reported above. But all too often, the owner is an issue.

It is worth looking at whether certain breeds which are known to consistently attack people should be banned, but you would need to grand-father in existing pets, as I don’t think killing dogs that have done nothing wrong is acceptable. Requiring them not to be bred or imported should eliminate them over time.

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Was it a cunning plan?

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

The latest iPredict update notes:

There has been a change of forecast winner in West Coast-Tasman. For the first time since March, National’s Chris Auchinvole is expected to retain the rugby league loving West Coast-Tasman (55% probability up from 47% last week). This follows media reports of attacks on prominent rugby league supporter Sir Peter Leitch (“The Mad Butcher”) by two Labour MPs.

Now of course we don’t know why this has changed, but O’Connor has been in front since March, so you would think there is some specific event which changed this.

Sir Peter is popular on the Coast. He helped a west coast old lady “fleeced of life savings” and the Warriors played a match for Pike River Miners.

Now what is interesting is that Damien O’Connor is not on the party list. If he does not win West Coast-Tasman, he is out of Parliament. Now what this means for Labour is that they get one extra List MP. And you know what if Labour get around 24% to 25%, Darien Fenton would lose her list seat if Damien O’Connor wins West Coast-Tasman, but will keep her seat if he loses it.

So was her outburst on Facebook just a stupid unthinking outburst, or was it not so stupid after all?

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Labour says law should not apply to them

July 26th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Damien O’Connor blogs at Red Alert:

I thought we lived in a free democracy. Since when did a sign become illegal when expressing an opinion or encouraging people to act? Does this ban all signs at marches that may in any way be linked to a movement or political party. The EC needs to pull their heads in. This is not the 1930s in Europe.

And Clare Curran chips in:

Hope the Electoral Commission is reading this. Is this what our democracy has come to?

I agree with you Damien

So Labour equate being forced to obey the electoral laws, as akin to Nazi Germany.  The sad thing is that they have got so used to being above the law, that they really do think it appalling that an independent agency will not kowtow to them. In fact the post is a barely veiled threat against the Electoral Commission.

What is especially ironic is that Damien voted for the Electoral Finance Act which would had far more restrictive laws, than the current Electoral Act.

Also in case people think Labour is right, and you can no longer wave a sign at a march – this is not the case. The only requirement is that the sign have an authorisation statement on it, if it can be considered an election advertisment. And this has in fact been the law for the last 15 years or so.

So what Damien is really complaining about is transparency. Transparency is what he compares to Nazi Germany.

As if one needed another reason why Labour is unfit for office, this is it.

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O’Connor attacks labour list domination by gays and unionists

April 11th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at the Dom Post reports:

A Labour MP says the party’s new list is dominated by “self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays”.

The party was the target of a bitter broadside from list MP Damien O’Connor, who opted not to go on the list, which he said was dominated by unionists and a gaggle of gays.

A gaggle of gays? Pretty insulting to his caucus colleagues.

Labour leader Phil Goff said he had “scolded” Mr O’Connor about the comments, which the MP had told him about, “although … it will probably help him no end on the Coast. He’s a pretty straight talker and he used West Coast language.”

I wonder what Robertson and Chauvel think of Goff saying that is “west coast language” which will help O’Connor “no end” on the coast.

O’Connor could have made the point that straight white males struggle to get good list rankings, due to the identity politics in Labour, without labelling people as a “gaggle of gays”.

O’Connor said he stood aside because he did not trust the list ranking process. “Frankly, I didn’t trust the system to give a straight-shooter a fair deal … It is dominated by self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays.” …

“It does not truly represent the rank-and-file members and delivers a list that is not truly representative of those who vote Labour.”

So let us look at the effective list for Labour, and see if the substance of Damien’s comments are accurate. How many non-union straight European males (such as Damien) have list spots? In the top 15 effective spots, there is only one – David Parker. In the top 30 effective spots, there are only two – Parker and Nash.

So Damien has a legitimate gripe, but the way he has gone about expressing it does him little credit.

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O’Connor got rolled

February 16th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

When the Govt announced in August that the Government would be implementing high country rentals based on earning capacity it was welcomed by Labour’s Damien O’Connor as “a good principle” and one that offered a “principled position” that would be “welcomed by farmers”. Damien, one of Labour’s few farmers, said the decision reflected Labour’s position.

But last night when the Bill came up for its first reading Damien had clearly been rolled and  Labour withdrew its support with David Parker giving what can only be described as a spite and hate filled speech calling the policy

  • “rent reductions being given to millionaires”
  • “A sop from National to its farming mates”
  • “Governing in the interests of narrow few”
  • ” a small number of rich people are getting millions of dollars at the expense of taxpayers”

So Labour shat over their own spokesperson, just to try and score some petty points. Another reason not ready to govern. Maybe an inquisitive jouranlist could ask Damien if he agrees with what David Parker said last night.

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No SOE shareholder will be able to own 20%

January 31st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Gaynor writes:

The Government has to convince the public that these companies will remain majority Crown and New Zealand controlled. This should be easy to achieve because under the Takeovers Code, which wasn’t introduced until 2001, a shareholder must go from 19.99 per cent to 50.01 per cent in one step and this will be impossible to achieve if the Government has at least 50 per cent ownership.

So if I understand this correctly, even if NZers sell shares they buy to an overseas company (presumably for a higher price which means those Kiwi Mums and Dads have made a profit), no company could gain a 20% or greater stake.

Combine this with the liklihood that the NZ Super Fund will also buy significant stakes in the SOEs, and it will be harder for xenophobic opposition to be whipped up.

This won’t stop Labour trying though. Look at this blog post by Labour MP Damien O’Connor which demands the Government stop Asians from buying a private listed company – Wrightsons:

A recent announcement that Agria, an Asian company is applying to raise it’s stake in PGWrightsons from 19% to 51% is one more such move.

So Labour is now against Asians even being able to buy shares in a listed private company. At this rate, they will be able to merge with Winston First.

People must realize that the land is important but only part of our rural economy. The businesses that operate on and associated with it need also to be owned by us unless we are prepared to be servants to our future, not the owners of it.

The translation is that it is not enough that we keep our land out of Asian hands, but also our businesses.

I like how Damien talks about Wrightsons as if it is owned by the state. It is not. It is owned by private shareholders. And no one is forced to do business with it. If people don’t like its shareholders, they don’t have to deal with it.

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Labour on Auckland

September 16th, 2009 at 1:58 pm by David Farrar

Labour List MP Damien O’Connor blogs:

The rest of the country subsidises Auckland and provides it with the wealth to exist.

This is not a view unique to Damien. Michael Cullen once said:

Auckland now sits atop the nation like a great crushing weight

I think it is commendable Damien shares his views with us. he is obviously positioning to become Finance Minister.

Incidentally a report in 2006 concluded Auckland sends $3.8 billion more tax to Wellington than it receives back in spending.

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Labour official in immigration probe

July 22nd, 2009 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

The Herald report:

A Labour Party official is being investigated over immigration irregularities, just weeks after he helped Labour MP Su’a William Sio facilitate a meeting with Pacific Islanders duped in a fake-visa scam.

Immigration New Zealand confirmed it was investigating Semisi Faka’osikimuli, the secretary of the Labour Party’s Tongan branch, but would not disclose details or comment further while the investigation is going on.

There comes a point at which you wonder if certain problems are due to individuals, or are institutional. We have the current trial of Taito Philip Field. We have the unresolved issue of why Bill Liu was granted citizenship by Shane Jones despite official advice of his criminal record in China and offences in Australia. We have the Choudary immigration scam. There was also the dropping of list candidate Steven Ching over allegations of bribery. And now this case. Important to note only Choudary has been convicted of crimes.

The Herald understands the investigation centres around fake skilled employment offers to help immigrants get New Zealand work permits and residencies, but it is not clear how much money or how many people were involved.

No doubt details will emerge in time.

Mr Sio said he had known Mr Faka’osikimuli for two years and had worked with him in various capacities – most recently at a meeting with Pacific Islander victims of a fake residency stamps and visa scam on July 4, where Mr Faka’osikimuli chaired the Tongan group.

“He’s an active member of the Labour Party, and like many members of the local Pacific community, Semisi comes regularly to my electorate office in Mangere,” Mr Sio said.

The question is whether the alleged scam was being run out of Sio’s office, and whether that office was used for meetings. Regardless of the criminal allegations, commercial money making ventures should not be using MPs offices.

Han Jian, a former client of Mr Faka’osikimuli – whom he knows as James Semisi – said he decided to lodge a report to the police and Immigration, after receiving a letter from Immigration accusing him of fraud and submitting fake employment job offer documents, and for falsely claiming he had an offer of skilled employment from a company, TVP Computers.

“I was shocked, because I didn’t go for any interviews and didn’t even know I had any job offer, and I definitely did not submit anything to Immigration,” said Mr Han in Mandarin.

“After paying James about $14,000, all he said was to trust him and that is what I did. I thought with his involvement in the Labour Party, he will have good connections with Immigration.”

And this is what I mean about is there institutional issues. Regardless of the criminal issues against Field, it is very clear that his mate the Associate Minister was massively more likely to allow someone to gain residency here if Field acted on behalf of the migrant. There seem to be strong incentives that if Labour is in Government, you deal with people connected with Labour to gain residency or for Bill Liu citizenship.

Regardless of the change of Government, I would like to see much more transparency around MPs involvement in immigration issues. Maybe a quarterly report of the number of applications sponsored by MPs, and their sucess rates. If we had this years ago, it would have been obvious that Ministers were whitelighting almost all applications sponsored by Field.

According to Immigration documents, the application papers were submitted by Rosie Brown, JP, a community worker who works part-time out of Mr Sio’s electorate office.

Again, this may not be about individuals, but institutions.

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Welcome back Damien

May 2nd, 2009 at 10:58 am by David Farrar

The Chief Electoral Officer proclaims:

The Chief Electoral Officer has declared Damien Peter O’Connor from Westport to be elected to Parliament from the New Zealand Labour Party list.

Damien is liked by most people in Parliament, regardless of party. I doubt he will win back West Coast-Tasman in 2011, and it will be interesting to see how he is placed on the 2011 list.

At the moment in the House, Labour is reduced from 43 seats to just 41 seats. O’Connor will bring them back to 42 when he is sworn in on Tuesday.

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The Upper South Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 10:16 pm by David Farrar

The birthplace of Labour, West Coast-Tasman went to National on the party vote by 11%. In 2005 the had a 3% margin. Damien O’Connor had a 1,500 majority and lost to Chris Auchinvole by 1,000 votes. Auchinvole (who once famously told Parliament you pronounce his name like it was Dock in Cole or a rude version that is easy to work out) wan a strong campaign with 160 hoardings and a large campaign team. O’Connor is first in on the Labour List, so if Michael Cullen retires he will be back as a List MP.

National finally won the party vote in Nelson. Labour won it by 6% in 2005 but National has a 5% lead in 2008. And no one was surprised that Nick retained his seat, although his majority did shrink from 9,500 to 7,900.

Kaikoura was marginal in 2002 and today the party vote was won by 23%, up from 9% in 2005. Colin King doubled his 4,700 mJority to 10,100.

Clayton Cosgrove did well to hold on in Waimakariri with 500 votes against the competent and hard working Kate Wilkinson. National won the party vote by 15%, up from a 0.3% margin in 2005. Cosgrove’s 2005 majority on new boundaries was 5,000.

Christchurch East remains red with 45% party vote Labour to 36% for National. However that 9% gap is a lot less than 24% in 2005. Dalziel’s 11,000 majority halved to 5,500 – still very safe. However National now has a List MP in the seat and will have hopes for when Lianne retires.

Christchurch Central was a great battle. Labour won the party vote by 1.4% and held the seat by 900 votes only. Nicky Wagner ran a very strong campaign but seats ending in Central are very hard to win for National. In 2005 the party vote margin was 22% and the majority for Barnett was 7,800.

Ilam has National 53% to 27% on the party vote. Gerry Brownlee also drives his majority from 5,500 to 10,800. This may finally stop Gerry from referring to his seat as marginal :-)

Wigram saw Labour win the party vote by just 2%. In 2005 it was 12%. And Jim Anderton scored a fairly safe 4,500 majority despite new boundaries.

Finally we have Port Hills. National won the party vote by 16%, yet Ruth Dyson held the seat by 3,100. In 2005 Labour won the party vote by 12% so there was a massive swing there, yet Dyson’s majority shrank from just 3,600 to 3,100.

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Electorate Polls

November 2nd, 2008 at 6:30 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged over on curiablog the results fo several recent electorate polls, including tonight’s one in Tauranga. The topline results are:

  • Tauranga – Bridges 26% ahead of Peters. Labour’s Pankhurst in 4th place at 5%. NZ First Party Vote down from 13% in 2005 to 6%.
  • Palmerston North – National candidate Malcolm Plimmer ahead by 3%
  • Ikaroa-Rawhiti – Parekura Horomia 5.4% ahead of Derek Fox
  • Nelson – Nick Smith 36% ahead of Maryan Street
  • West Coast-Tasman – Damien O’Connor 3.5% ahead of Chris Auchinvole
  • Te Tai Tonga – Maori TV/TNS has Mahara Okeroa ahead of Rahui Katene by 10% – 49% to 39%. However Marae Digipoll has Okeroa bejind by 6% – 40% to 46%
  • Hauraki-Waikato – Nanaia Mahuta ahead of Angeline Greensill by 0.6%

All three Maori seats held by Labour are highly competitive. In two seats Labour is ahead and in the seat with conflcitign results, an averaging of them out would see Labour ahead. This means that the Maori Party may not have much of an overhang at all – in fact they could even gain a List MP if they got 4% or so party vote.

Palmerston North is the only Labour held seat that a public poll has shown National ahead in, so far. Due to boundary changes Taupo and Rotorua are technically National’s on paper.

Based on boundary changes and public polls (and note this is not a personal prediction) the electorate seats would be:

  1. National 35
  2. Labour 28
  3. Maori 4
  4. ACT 1
  5. United Future 1
  6. Progressive 1

Labour will in one sense be very pleased to be ahead in all three Maori seats. However this does lessen their chances of winning via overhang.

And the Tauranga result is superb. With only 5% voting Labour on the electorate vote anyway, it means no amount of tactical voting in Tauranga can put Winston back in that way.

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Too good to resist

March 20th, 2008 at 11:26 am by David Farrar

capcont.JPG

Oh these photos from the Dominion Post are too good to resist, so it is caption contest time. Refer to them as photo 1 and photo 2 for clarity.

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