The conflicted Lees-Galloway

December 22nd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Kathryn King at Stuff reports:

Burger King’s latest store has been opened by Labour’s associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway, but he turned down the opportunity to sample its fare for himself.

Lees-Galloway opened Burger King’s Rangitikei St store yesterday morning, the company’s third in Palmerston North, but the city MP was quick to distance himself from advocating fast food by acknowledging his spokesman position and telling the small crowd he was “pleased to see another business opening in the Manawatu”. …

When asked about the recent spate of fast-food outlets opening in the city, he said it meant they had confidence our economy had enough demand for them. But he said he hoped they would be competing for market share rather than increasing the amount of fast food sold in the city. Palmerston North also serviced a bigger area than just the city.

He opens them, but hopes they don’t do well and gain customers!

Lees-Galloway said he would open any business that asked him and that it was a fairly standard thing for a local MP to do.

Any business? Really? I do hope a new Palmie brothel asks Iain to open them up for business!

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Alcohol advertising

July 16th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Lees-Galloway had drafted a series of amendments to the Bill that he would put up when it came back to the debating chamber for a clause by clause debate, which was expected this month.

They included restricting alcohol advertising around schools, early childhood centres and at all but R18 films, and prohibiting advertising discounts.

Labour acknowledged many organisations relied on alcohol sponsorship, just as many once relied on tobacco sponsorship, he said.

“That is why I want to take this moderate approach to consider the viability of this option and to plan a smooth implementation should it go ahead.”

Lees-Galloway also wanted alcohol sponsorship phased out the same way tobacco sponsorship was phased out.

I’ll come to the amendments in a second, but I think banning alcohol sponsorship would be a draconian move, and unjustified.

THE PROPOSED CHANGES:

- Remove alcohol advertising on posters or billboards within 300m of schools and early childhood centres.

I don’t have a problem of removing within a fair distance of schools. ECEs is a bit over-board – I don’t think three year olds look at billboards much – and more practically an ECE can move about anywhere – unlike schools which tend to be in a fairly fixed location.

Remove alcohol advertising in cinemas unless the film screening is R18

This is an effective ban in all movies. When is the last time an R18 showed? I have some sympathy for the notion thought that one shouldn’t advertise in films targeted for kids. Maybe a lower threshold though?

Prohibit television advertising of alcohol before 9pm.

Sounds reasonable.

Prohibit using price in alcohol advertisements except in catalogues. Prohibit advertising discounts on alcohol, including in catalogues.

This one has some merit. Brand advertising I do not have a problem with, but advertising that promoted very cheap alcohol does cause issues. But one has to be careful how far you go. Making happy hour illegal can be taking things too far.

Establish a “Alcohol Advertising Reform Committee” with the health and justice ministries which would include the Health Promotion Agency.

Not sure we need a committee, but an issue with alcohol advertising is that the only penalty for breach of an ASA code on alcohol advertising is you have to pull the advertisement. This I think encourages some advertising which does breach the code. It is worth looking at having some sanctions for code breaches.

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Smoking Targets

April 16th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway has said:

The Government is deliberately ignoring health data that doesn’t tell the story it wants the public to hear, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says.

“Statistics collected by the Ministry of Health reveal that every district health board (DHB) except one is failing to get close to acceptable rates for early smoking cessation intervention.

“The Government wants us to believe it has made smoking cessation a priority. These figures highlight the reality – it hasn’t, “Iain Lees-Galloway.

“The Ministry of Health expects 90 per cent of smokers who see a GP to be provided with advice and help to quit, yet only one DHB is reaching that target.

“No other DHB is even close. In fact, on average they are underperforming by 57%.

“Tony Ryall, of course, is allergic to bad news, so these figures never get reported.

 “Interestingly he talks up statistics around smokers who end up in hospital* and the advice they get there.

“But only reporting smoking cessation activities in hospitals is ludicrous. Far more people see their GP than go to hospital.

This is an interesting issue. Lees-Galloway is taking about two seperate things – the proportion of smokers who see their GP who get advice and help to quit, and the proportion of smokers in a hospital who get advice and help to quit.

The hospital figure is the official national health target. It was 90% and has just gone up to 95%. The DHB average was 95% in the first quarter of 2011/12 and slipped back to 89% in the second quarter. Six DHBS made 95% and 12 made 90%, while eight did not.

Now hospitals are actually run by DHBs. DHBs control hospitals. A DHB has the ability to put in place policies around offering quit smoking services to patients. Also be aware that the average person spends hours or days in hospital, so it is easier to do something additional to the reason they are in hospital.

GPs are not employed by DHBs. They are private entities, that only get a portion of their income from the Government. The ability of a Government to get GPs to do something is very limited, and frankly it is silly of Lees-Galloway to think they can.

Now from what I can tell, the DHBs only started funding GPs to even code their patients as to whom are smokers and non-smokers. Sure it is recorded in notes in long-hand, but it is a big job to go through every file and mark them in the database as a smoker.

The new target for GPs only started this year, and they noted:

Unlike the other health targets, this measure started from scratch as provision of advice and help to smokers was not recorded previously nor even offered routinely.

So imagine what is involved to get every GP in NZ recording the status, and then also recording if they offered quit smoking assistance. I’ve worked in a medical centre. The average visit is around 15 minutes, and covering anything apart from the immediate problem slows things down a lot. Now this is not to say it is not a good idea – it is. But expecting 90% achievement in the first year is silly.

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A fair point

March 8th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Iain Lees-Galloway blogs:

Tariana Turia has accused Fonterra of dumping milk into the Manawatu River.

I was concerned when I read her press release so I contacted Fonterra to see what was going on. The odd thing is, the idea of calling Fonterra hadn’t occurred to Tariana. Nor does it seem she had spoken to Horizons Regional Council. In fact, as best as I can tell, she hadn’t done a thing to substantiate her claims before she issued her press release.

This is totally irresponsible from a Government Minister. …

If the claims are true, Fonterra absolutely should be held to account. But where are the facts and why on earth was her first action to issue a press release?

Iain is quite correct. No MP should make an unsubstantiated allegation such as this, let alone a Minister.

At least though Mrs Turia didn’t do it in the House, cowering under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

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Friction in Palmie

April 15th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jonathon Howe at the Manawatu Standard reports:

The first shots have been fired in the battle to win Palmerston North at this year’s general election, with National candidate Leonie Hapeta accusing Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway of practising “nasty politics”.

Mr Lees-Galloway and about 15 supporters gathered outside Mrs Hapeta’s Hotel Coachman about 5pm on Monday – protesting against the Government’s plans to sell state-owned assets.

Mrs Hapeta said she felt attacked by the protesters, who held signs and waved at vehicles on both sides of Fitzherbert Ave.

“Having not met Iain since I became the candidate, I went out to introduce myself, and ask him why he was attacking my business, rather than holding the protest outside my campaign office,” she said.

A fair question.

But Mr Lees-Galloway, who is Labour’s Defence and Land Information spokesman, said the location was chosen by his Young Labour supporters because of the heavy traffic flow.

“There was no intention to target Leonie’s business and it hadn’t even crossed my mind,” he said.

“Yeah, when I got there I thought: `OK we’re outside the Coachman’ but it was no plan on my part.”

Just a coincidence then.

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Goff on Tax

May 25th, 2010 at 3:46 pm by David Farrar

Some wonderful quotes from Hansard. First we have the General Debate of 24 Feb 1988:

From 1 April 1988 the rate of company tax will decrease from 48 percent to 28 percent, and that will create an environment in which enterprises can succeed—both New Zealand enterprises and those that are attracted from overseas. That, too, is the path to future sustainable growth.

So cutting the company tax rate to 28% in 1988 was the path to future sustainable growth, yet something he condemns today.

Then we have the Appropriation Bill (No 3) second reading on 10 November 1988:

Let us consider the Government’s track record. It has introduced a new taxation system that is closing off the loopholes that in the past made paying tax a voluntary exercise for many companies and some individuals. The top marginal tax rate was 66c in the dollar when the Government took office, but it is now half that level—33c in the dollar.

And reducing the top tax rate to 33% and closing off loopholes was also laudable according to Phil.

And finally the second reading of the Appropriation Bill (No 2) on 18 August 1988:

Taxation has gone from 48c and 30c in the dollar to 33c and 24c in the dollar. That reduction allows New Zealanders to keep more of their own money.

And an endorsement of dropping the top tax rate to 33% so NZers get to keep more of their own money.

Now to some degree all politicians will have made statements earlier in their careers, which they later change their mind on. However they tend to be fairly minor issues, not something as core as whether reducing the top tax rates is laudable or deplorable.  And these are not statements from when Phil was a Young Labour member, but as a Minister of the Crown.

Now in the budget debate the PM had a great time pointing out the massive hypocrisy in having the Opposition Leader condemn almost everything he had previously praised. And this is quite legitimate – it is not some sort of personal attack – it is highlighting changed policy positions. He then went on to talk about the budget itself.

Now Phil himself, and Annette, took Key’s speech in pretty good humour and were smiling at parts of it. They know that is what it is about. However the same can’t be said of some of the delicate wee flowers in his caucus who within seconds were whining on Twitter.

First Clare Curran complains:

Key starts his speech with a cheap shot. So Prime Ministerial!

That was in response to Key’s opening line that Shane Jones was really happy with Phil’s speech. Good God.

Then Clare complains further:

He’s a comedian. Does he take this country seriously! It’s embarrassing

So the PM is monstering you in the House pointing out (with considerable humour) that everything Phil Goff said is contradicted by what Phil previously said and your response is to complain he is being too funny.

But not just Clare. Iain Lees-Galloway joined in:

John Key thinks he’s on stage. What an embarrasment of a Prime Minister!

Personally I would be embarrassed to be tweeting such whines.

The trifecta was completed by Jacinda Ardern complaining:

hard to tell if this is a budget speech the PM is giving or a pep rally/stand up routine. yet to mention the actual budget.

I’m sorry guys, but it is such a bad look to be whining that your opponent’s leader is doing too good a job of winding his own troops up. Especially when your own leader’s speech was somewhere between awful and really awful (Goff generally has been much better in the house this year but his budget speech was just all over the place).

Finally Clare Curran declares:

Worst budget speech ever

People can watch the video and decide for themselves.

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HoS on Labour

November 1st, 2009 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

The HoS discloses another Labour MP, Iain Galloway-Lees, was involved in their internal polling operations. No suggestion he did anything wrong – just that he helped recruit volunteers and was in attendance.

More damning is the editorial, titled Labour loses moral compass.

This is a time, not for elegant mendacity, but for simple truths.

Senior Labour MP Rick Barker ran a publicly-funded political poll from his Parliamentary office last month.

And, when confronted last week by a Herald on Sunday journalist, he initially denied knowledge of any polling.

To me, the poll itself is not that significant a story – but the denial and attempted coverup is what has pissed off the media.

This was dishonesty.

It was dishonesty of the sort that former Labour Cabinet minister Lianne Dalziel displayed, when she denied knowledge of a leaked immigration report in 2004. Yet that was a foolish deceit, made by an impassioned minister in the heat of the moment. Dalziel, at least, had the grace and integrity to resign from Cabinet.

No such integrity is shown by the Labour Party under Phil Goff.

Ouch.

Rick Barker refuses to admit his intent to deceive. And worse, his party’s parliamentary leadership has largely backed him.

Labour, it seems, has lost its moral compass.

Labour has focused on defending the poll, but has failed to address the more serious issue of Barker lying to the media.

They conclude:

Goff has just cowered and, when confronted by political reporters outside the Labour Caucus room with nowhere to hide, obfuscated.

Labour’s leader must now stand up and take responsibility for the deception that was conducted with funds entrusted to him by Parliament.

Barker should be sacked from all his Caucus responsibilities. Hughes, too, must be left in no doubt about how repugnant his rationalisations are.

These, then, are the simple truths that are demanded of Labour’s tarnished leadership.

And these are the truths Labour has forgotten.

I actually feel a bit sorry for Labour over this. Normally this would be a one day story. But there is a bit of a political news vacuum, so it has ended up in the media most of the week. Part of this is because of their inept response to the story, but part of it is just bad timing.

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A very interesting meeting

October 7th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

On Monday night, we had a rare meeting of Presidents and leading representatives from Young Labour, Young Nationals, Young Greens and Act on Campus.

It was to discuss some of the options canvassed in the Law Commission’s review of alcohol law, and on top of 15 or so youth reps, we also had executives from the Drug Foundation, Hospitality Association, Lion Nathan and the Law Commission (to observe and provide info).

The four youth sections came together three years ago to (successfully) fight against Parliament’s move to raise the purchase age of alcohol to 20. The idea of the meeting was not just to focus on the purchase age, but consider many of the wider issues and see if there was a consensus on what options they agreed with, and what options they did not think would be effective.

I was involved with the original Keep It 18 campaign, so facilitated the meeting and to a certain degree played Devil’s Advocate on some of the issues. Issues discussed included the purchase age, should there be a drinking age, a split purchase age for on and off licenses, supply of alcohol to minors, restricted hours for off and on licenses, other access issues, excise tax levels, price issues, advertising restrictions, loss leading, blood alcohol limits for driving, open alcohol in cars, should cars have mandatory alcohol ignition locking devices, fake IDs, should drinking or being drunk in public be an offence etc.

I thought the meeting was really good, Not that I agreed with them on all issues, and not that they agreed with each other all the time. But it was a very practical discussion from a group of young people with first hand experience of youth drinking. It was around 50/50 guys and gals, but I didn’t pick up any huge difference in perspectives between the genders. There were some issues where there were differences between “left” and “right” but a surprisingly large number of issues where there was widespread agreement. The result is the four youth sections are going to do a joint submission (which may be a first) on the stuff they agree on, and individual submissions (or minority reports to the main submission) on the issues they have different perspectives on.

Not going to get into details of all the discussion, but there were three parts that stood out to me. They were:

  1. When the current code of practice for alcohol advertising was summarised as banning ads that imply drinking can lead to sexual, sporting or social sucess, there was fairly widespread laughter as an automatic reaction. That was a very instinctive judgement that the current code is not working, or not being rigorously applied by all players. In fact many in the room cited ads that seem to quite specifically imply sexual, sporting or social sucess from drinking.
  2. The discussion on the excise tax and price levels was very economically literate. There was a reasonable consensus that if alcohol use generates external costs (which it does), then there should be an excise tax set to cover the cost of that externality. However they rejected the notion that the tax be increased beyond covering the externality as a way to decrease demand, pointing out that would probably just send people into buying cheaper alcohol per volume (such as spirits). There was of course also reference to the considerable divergence in economists views of what the external costs of alcohol are, and the point was made that any figure used as justification for an increase should be very robust or bulletproof.
  3. Very amusing in the discussion on price and excise tax was the points made by AoC that the real problem is people don’t pay for their own health care and a no faults ACC scheme which caused much merriment. Now to be fair to AoC their points are absolutely valid, but I did have to say I think we can assume that the Government is unlikely to privatise the health system and abolish ACC, so if we taken these as a given, then what is the best way to cover the externalities.

As I said, despite differences on a fair number of issues, it was a very mature and constructive discussion. I was really impressed with those who took part.

Also thanks are due to Labour’s Trevor Mallard (and his secretary) and Iain Lees-Galloway for providing a meeting room at Parliament, and attending (with useful contributions). When it became clear Parliament would be the best place to hold the meeting I considered the easiest way to get an MP to sponsor the meeting. I figured if I approached a National MP they might get worried about any perception of doing me a favour so I e-mailed Trevor on the rationale that no one could ever criticise him for helping me secure a room :-)

As I said, was a really good meeting, and who knows there might be other issues in future they come together on.

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Friday’s MPs

January 23rd, 2009 at 12:59 pm by David Farrar

The Herald series continues:

Hekia Parata hit out at the impact the “capricious ideas of officialdom” have had on small towns struggling to keep themselves going, saying she had seen communities such as the Ruatoria she grew up in “succumb to the disease of dependency”.

A former public servant and consultant in the business she ran with husband Wira Gardiner, she said in some communities state intervention had become the norm rather than the exception.

“Caregivers and providers and facilitators and sector workers replace aunts, uncles, neighbours and friends.”

Bravo.

She knows now that even the Ruatoria of her childhood was economically challenged. “But its cultural wealth and social richness, its determined self-belief and hard work kept it viable.”

However, in such communities state welfare – “rather than social welfare” – had become a first resort, spawning “an intergenerational life sentence, rather than a life line”. In such communities, “despair and alienation are masked by drugs and alcohol and abuse, and displaced anger makes victims of children and their mothers, where low expectation in schools is predictably repaid with low achievement; where fault and blame laying has become the defence of failure”.

She said she felt called to Parliament to “lay bare the causes of these symptoms” and act to find durable solutions.

Her recipe for doing so was for the state to play a lesser role in communities and instead be filtered through organisations that worked and lived with the people affected. She also believed cultural diversity should be invested in, “not because it is fashionable, but because it carries identity and the potential for innovation and new technologies”. The final ingredient was education.

“All other aspirations for economic growth, raised standards of living, national confidence and pride, will flow from getting these basics right.”

There is a reason why Hekia had such a high list ranking.

Paul Quinn

Background: Iwi affiliations include Ngati Awa, Tuhoe and Te Arawa. Former Maori All Black from 1977 to 1979. Degree in economics, he most recently ran his own business advisory and consultancy company. Has worked in the forestry sector and on Treaty settlements, including as a negotiator for Ngati Awa’s Treaty claim. Director of the NZ Rugby Union since 2002 and remains active at a grass roots level on the committee of his old Marist St Pat’s rugby club.

In his own words: “[The Treaty settlement process] is but one specific reason why I now stand in this House. It is my response to the total lack of leadership provided by the previous administration in getting on with the job, particularly when it was obvious there was a better way. I note they magically found that better way some six months out from an election.”

Paul, like Hekia, has an excellent background and will be able to make a contribution across a number of areas.

Iain-Lees Galloway

Background: One of Labour’s ‘fresh faces’ intake, 30-year-old has two pre-school children. Was president of the Massey University Students’ Association in 2005 and a campaigner for NZ Nurses’ Organisation prior to Parliament. Maiden speech focused on the need for community organisations to help parents support their children and the importance of investing in research and development.

Many of Labour’s new MPs were student association presidents.

Personal: Mr Lees-Galloway is evidence that National is not the only party taking new MPs that don’t fit in with the party’s stereotypical image. He was educated at King’s College, comes from a beef farming family and wryly admitted his parents remained “thoroughly perplexed” by seeing him on Labour’s side of the House.

His candidacy in Palmerston North presented them with the dilemma of choosing between their own son or their beloved National Party. “They came up with a novel if somewhat drastic solution: they moved out of the electorate. I’m sure [National and Rangitikei MP] Simon Power will be relieved to know he now has two more voters whose loyalty is unquestionable.”

I’m not sure Simon’s majority needed the help, but I’ve yet to meet an MP who doesn’t appreciate every extra vote!

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The Lower North Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 4:32 am by David Farrar

Whanganui had a 3% lead in the party vote in 2005, and this expanded out to 22% in 2008. And the 3,500 majority for Borrows goes to 6,000.

Rangitikei sees a 25% lead in the party vote and Simon Power moves his majority from 9,000 to 11,000.

Tukituki has an 18% lead in the party vote, and a 2,600 majority for Craig Foss gets a boost thanks to Labour’s sacking of the local District Health Board to over 7,000.

Palmerston North has been held by Labour since 1978. The party vote was narrowly won by National but Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway held off Malcolm Plimmer by 1,000 votes.

Wairarapa has National 17% ahead on the party vote. And John Hayes turns the seat safe with a 2,900 majority converting to 6,300 in 2008.

Otaki was a huge battle. I’ve door knocked Otaki in the past and it is not natural National territory in the Horowhenua parts. So winning the party vote by 8% is good for National after trailling by 3% last time. Darren Hughes put up a huge fight to protect his sub 400 majority but Nathan Guy grabbed the seat by almost 1,500.

In Wellington, Labour does a lot better starting with Mana. Labour remains 6% ahead on the party vote but reduced from 18% in 2005. Winnie Laban’s 6,800 majority shrinks only slightly to 5.300.

Rimutaka was the last hope for NZ First. Labour won the party vote there in 2005 by 11% and in 2008 by 0.3%. On the electorate vote just as narrow with Labour’s Chris Hipkins pipping Richard Whiteside by 600 votes. Ron Mark got a credible 5,000 votes but stll trailed by 7,000.

Hutt South is home to Wainuiomata and Trevor Mallard. Trevor delivered a party vote margin for Labour of 4% and a 3,600 majority for himself. In 2005 the party vote margin was 14% and the personal majority 6,600 so some movement there.

Rongotai is now the home of the Labour Deputy Leader. But even before her ascension, Rongotai gave Labour a massive 11% margin on the party vote – 43% to 32% for National. And her personal 13,000 majority in 2005 was only slightly dented to just under 8,000. If that is her low tide mark, she’ll be happy.

Wellington Central saw in 2005 a party vote for National of just 33%, Labour 43% and Greens around 16%. In 2008 it was National 36%, Labour 34% and Greens around 20%. Marian Hobbs had a 5,800 majority and Stephen Franks cut that to 1,500 against new MP Grant Robertson with some Green party votes giving Robertson their electorate vote to keep Franks out.

Ohariu was assumed by almost everyone to be safe as houses for Peter Dunne. But it got close this time. First on the party vote, National beat Labour 43% to 40% in 2005. This time it was 47% to 33%. On the candidate vote Peter Dunne dropped from 45% to 33% making him vulnerable. National’s Katrina Shanks lifted her vote from 21% to 26% and Labour’s Charles Chauvel from 26% to 30%. The Greens candidate got 7% of the vote and may have ironically saved the seat for Dunne.

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More EFA Fun

April 21st, 2008 at 2:55 pm by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

For a while now I have noticed when passing major road improvement projects on State Highways that at the beginning of each project there is a large Transit sign stating what the improvement is.

Underneath the main text is a short statement saying: A New Zealand Government Initiative.

What are your thoughts on whether these would count as an election advertisement and should they carry an authorisation statement and count toward election costs for the Labour Party.

I know its perhaps drawing a long bow, but they only seemed to appear in the last year or so and it irks me every time I see it.  I can’t actually see any reason for it to be on the Transit sign apart from to make people think positively of the government in relation to fixing roads.

There is an arguable case. Let us look at Section 5(1)(a)(ii)

In this Act, election advertisement

  • (a) means any form of words or graphics, or both, that can reasonably be regarded as doing 1 or more of the following:

    • (ii) encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party or for a type of candidate that is described or indicated by reference to views, positions, or policies that are or are not held, taken, or pursued (whether or not the name of a party or the name of a candidate is stated); and

Now as the EFA says the name of the party does not need to be stated and a “The Government” is a description of the parties which form the Government – Labour, Progressive, NZ First and United Future.

Now does the signs saying “A NZ Government initiative” encourage people to vote for Government parties?  Probably not – it would be a stretch. On the other hand you might ask why the signs now include the statement – does anyone think that state highway upgrades are a private initiative? Maybe the suggestion came from that independent Transit board member Mike Williams?

Meanwhile Peter McC has photos of the Palmerston North Labour Party candidate, Iain Lees-Galloway, with an illegal election advertisement.  After he noticed photos being taken, he stuck on an authorisation statement but sadly as it did not include a home address (just the Labour Head Office) it is still illegal!

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