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A Political Watcher’s Pig Heaven

Over the last two years a number of articles have been written here at the AIMN about tax expenditures and the need to rein them in if the economy is going to reflect a more even distribution of the wealth.

I couldn’t count the number of times mainstream journalists had put the question to former Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

I cannot recall the number of leading economists that have also added their voice to the need for reform to end the waste of concessions to superannuation, negative gearing, the mining industry and capital gains.

But I know there have been many.

Yet for two years, Hockey and Cormann defended their decisions not to touch these sacrosanct areas of welfare for the wealthy at the expense of the average worker.

It was the elderly, the low paid and the sick who were told to pull their belts in, stop leaning on the rest of us and pay more for health care while receiving less in retirement.

Yet, five minutes after both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are given their marching orders and despite Mathias Cormann miraculously holding on to a job he is not very good at, the government has finally agreed these areas of obscene generosity can be now be looked at. What has changed?

mitchellFormer PM Tony Abbott did the rounds of his favourite shock jocks last week to vent some of his angst about the treachery he experienced from within his cabinet that resulted in his overthrow. He has made a point of saying nothing has changed. It would seem he hasn’t looked very far.

This week’s summit, both called for and chaired by Malcolm Turnbull, was a big change. The summit was a means of getting stalled reform initiatives back on the table.

Business groups, unions, welfare and social groups all got to have a say, with the notable exception of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), Abbott’s favourite policy spruiker.

So, some things have changed.

It is inconceivable that Turnbull will not try for further, more substantial changes. The difficulty he faces is the hard right wing of the party who reluctantly allowed him back as leader.

They still don’t trust him. They think he is a Labor stooge, a socialist at heart, one who needs to be watched very carefully.

This lack of trust, this suspicion from the Right that Turnbull is not one of them will continue to undermine his agenda for Australia.

If the Right succeeds in holding him back they will stall the nation’s ability for genuine economic recovery and frustrate the voters.

Under Abbott, the Liberal Party made a hard turn to the right on practically everything. Turnbull wants to bring it back to the centre. In doing that, he risks both alienating an important support base within the party as well as making the party appear no different from Labor on issues that matter to the voters.

The Australian voter will generally go along with either party on foreign policy, immigration and national security. Their main interest is in education, health, climate change and the economy.

Thus far, both parties have no answer to what is perceived as spiralling debt and ongoing deficits. The next election will be fought on these four issues.

The new treasurer, Scott Morrison has already blotted his copy book claiming we only have a spending problem. He is wrong, of course, but the mere fact that this was his opening salve doesn’t look good for his, or the government’s, credentials as economic managers.

In the meantime, Labor will always trump them on climate change, education and health. The next twelve months will be a political watcher’s pig heaven. Can Labor convince the electorate that they were better at running an economy?

Can Turnbull build a consensus between the unions and industry while keeping welfare groups happy? Can he convince anyone that Direct Action is not a waste of money?

One thing is certain. The bad air, the despondency, the feeling of being dragged back into the middle of the last century has passed. We have been liberated from the threat of a recurring dark age. No longer are we embarrassed, ridiculed and portrayed as recalcitrant dimwits from down-under.

For that I’m grateful, but I suspect the turbulence for change within the electorate is going to make life inside the Coalition a smouldering keg of discontent that threatens to explode at any time.



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  1. Ashleigh Mcginn

    Was the ALP invited to this conference? It would seem to me that a consensus, bipartisan view of what to do should include the main Opposition party if you want to get something through the Senate!

  2. John Kelly

    Good question, Ashleigh. I think the answer is, no they were not.

  3. Jason Blake

    Tax is easy when you understand it is there to control inflation caused by government spending.

    1. Reform how taxes are collected, ensuring Big Business is paying taxes & remove all taxes to be replaced with these taxes that move against government created inflation

    a. Transaction Tax at 1%
    b. Capital Gains Tax
    c. Alcohol, Gambling & Tobacco Tax
    d. Business Tax at 1% for $1m & incrementing by 1% for every million up to 20% (30% for Financial, Insurance & Real-Estate)
    e. Have an annual renewal Corporate Charter of 1% of Gross
    f. Resources Tax

    2. Restructure Government to have 150 Services, 32 Departments under these 6 Ministries with spend allocations against GDP as follows:

    a. Governance – 1% = $16b
    b. Leadership – 1% = $16b
    c. Protection – 3% = $48b
    e. Social Affairs – 10% = $160b
    f. Education – 5% = $80b
    g. Science – 5% = $80b

    # Governments can distribute with in the Departments & Services against their policy, but the percentage to that Ministry Portfolio never changes.

    What this does is ensure the level of spending on re-occurring services is always there & it is merely up to the Progressives or Conservatives to decide who it is spent.

    It should be noted that our Constitution was designed to allow for spending outside this for infrastructure builds, upgrades or productive measures that lead to growth & increased productivity.

    When it comes to this type of spending it should be performed against the level of spending of the non-government sector.

    That is, when the non-government sector spending is contracting/reducing, then Government spending must increase against it by buying up the excess labour force & putting them to work on vital infrastructure projects. This should also be coupled with reduced taxes.

    When non-government sector is increasing like the periods between 1999-2010, then taxes should increase & government spending reduced.

    If during this period Howard had raised taxes on Business & Resources, then we would have had a Reserve Fund that could have been used during the 2008 GFC, rather then borrowing from for Profit Banks. Mind you, our government never needs to borrow from these institutions, as it is Constitutional allowed to borrow against the Credit of the Commonwealth by creating the credit it needs & simply running an accounting record, which means no interest.

    This whole BS about debt & deficit by government is a false premise because as long as it holds a debt in Australian Dollars, then it can never go broke, since it always has the Constitution Powers & capacity to pay it of since it is the creator & issuer of the Australian Currency.

    # Added to that, Rudd should never be allowed back to Australia because when he borrowed he made one of the biggest every economic mistakes. Instead of spending 100% of it in productive areas like Infrastructure, inventions, innovations, research, education & training, he established dozens of councils & committees that served no productive purpose, but were well paid for sitting around having a chin wag.

    The method I showed above about Government restructure has a Ministry of Leadership. This is the Brains trust & under that when need for specific purposes, they can establish councils & committees on a limited bases to engage with communities, interest groups & intellectuals about past, current & future issues.

  4. charybds

    The so called ‘reforms’ he wants to get moving on are the same attacks on working Australians as were there under Abbott.
    .. environmental policy .. the same.
    There is still a complete lack of will to tackle the issue of BILLIONS of dollars in corporate welfare and tax rorting.

    This is the same abomination .. it’s just grown a new head.

  5. mars08

    Off topic, I know. But our slick new PM comes complete with his own shiny, new dog-whistle. Who’s surprised?

    “This appears to have been an act of politically-motivated violence so at this stage it appears to have been an act of terrorism,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Melbourne.

    “It is a shocking crime. It was a cold-blooded murder targeting the NSW Police service. It was doubly shocking because it was perpetrated by a 15-year-old boy.

    “The Australian Muslim community will be especially appalled and shocked by this. As [NSW Police] Commissioner Andrew Scipione and the Premier [Mike Baird] have noted, we must not vilify or blame the entire Muslim community with the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals.”

  6. my say

    charybds >,something has soon got to give because the low and middle income earners havebeen bleed dry ,we have nothing more to give,
    Turnbull has sold his soul,to become PM,just like Abbott who was willing to sell a certain part of his anatomy to become PM in a minority government.
    Turnbull is no better than Abbott,he can use all the fancy words he likes ,he still has all Abbotts policies ,and he thinks we will agree with the one’s he wants to change,
    Tell him he is dreaming,
    I really hope he suffers the same fate as Gillard ,We did not vote for her was the cry from MSM and shock jocks ,so why is it different for Turnbull ,
    I really hope they reap what they sowe,

  7. kerri

    The MSM wanted Turnbull as PM all along. They also wanted Morrison as Treasurer, despite his lack of experience. Now Morrison is talking privatisation of hospitals and schools. Now just take a wild stab in the dark as to whom this combative happy clapper of a treasurer will recommend the schools and hospitals be sold to??

  8. Jexpat

    Morrison has now followed up his opening slavo with another failed American model: push to privitise public education and health care.

    Ideologues to the end, n’est-ce pas?

  9. Matters Not

    Yes Jexpat, the ‘market’ solves everything when left to its own devices. The government should just get out of the way and let the forces of the ‘market’ work their wonder.

    I note that the Tasmanian government just placed a ‘fire ban’ in certain parts of that State. ‘Nanny State’ nonsense. If people want to light fires they should be free to exercise that right. Here in Queensland there are all sorts of bans on the seafood you can catch and keep.

    Where will it end?

    The ‘nanny’ goat state ought to be replaced by the ‘billy’ goat state.

    Isn’t blind ideological decision making a wonderful thing.

  10. jim

    I heard that not only was the ALP not invited to the forum but the Small Business Association were not invited as well only the big end, ie Coles and Wollies, Makes me wonder who Turnbull stands for eh.

  11. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks John Kelly for your thoughts on the new cabinet.

    PM Malcolm Turnbull is astute enough to know that the political template offered by the LNP in the Howard-Abbott years simply wasn’t working. Times have changed.

    The electorate wants more than so many stalled initiatives in the name of the low tax low service state.

    Premier Newman in Queensland.tried this approach and failed dismally at the end of a first term.

    It seems reasonable that the federal LNP will stay with the new team, some of whom are ultra-conservative with little appeal in heartland and marginal regional seats.

    The new cabinet is into change strategies which are giving a new language to Australian politics.

    This can be positive for the Labor Opposition as it can question the funding base of the government’s new initiatives while offering better alternative approaches.

    The LNP right will of course want tax concessions for its support base and this will moderate the extent of progressive policy initiatives.

    The Queensland Labor Government has been very positive in supporting initiatives against family violence and infrastructure projects like the extension of the Light Rail Network on the Gold Coast.

    I would expect a mini-budget before the mid-year financial statement and an attempt at bipartisan support for changes to senate vote counting procedures.

    If the polls are good, Malcolm Turnbull might try for an early mandate before he has to prove his worth on longer-term issues in a slowing global and Australian economy in late 2016.

    Labor can talk up the divisions within the LNP and complain if the LNP right exerts a policy drag on the government.

    I would say Labor has better prospects than in 2001 and 2004 at the height of the new global war on terrorism. Let’s hope for a 1998 result or better.

    On largely domestic issues in 1998 over the introduction of the GST, Labor performed surprisingly well particularly in metropolitan heartland and regional electorates from a very low support base in 1996.

    So cheer on the emphasis on positive policies and offer something better to the numerous winnable seats and senate spots.

  12. eli nes

    those of us, who are not pollies or rich, prefer the pom’s style of using our tax money on health and education over ‘head bled need bed can’t pay can’t stay go away’ yankie system?
    Two personal experiences with ‘private’. 15 years ago i had an op on my foot and still felt very crook the third day after the op when I was supposed to have a shower.
    Late morning, two nurses came neither had been on duty before (a common occurrence with employing part-time staff) when I said I was too ill they said ‘well we’re not washing you and left’ At this stage no doctor/surgeon had been to see me. At lunch the next day a the physician in charge who happened to be a fellow golfer came by and within 10 minutes I had the anaesthetist sticking a needle into my wrist muttering why can’t you find a ^#^^ artery when you want one. the story got much worse but by mid afternoon I woke in a tunnel leading to the public hospital where there were permanent nursing staff and medical staff, including a world renowned renal specialist who no private hospital below that of a kerry packer would engage certainly not for the likes of me. After the recovery the surgeon sent me to the private hospital for an xray and when I submitted the form the receptionist announced to those waiting ‘you cannot have an xray as you haven’t paid for the chest xray??? the surgery was on my foot?? She rang the surgeon and very quietly told me to wait in the next room.
    The 2013 op was a knee replacement and it was in Ashford (adelaide) again no doctors in residence only on call if you can convince a nurse their was one competent nurse on most shift but the overwhelming majority of the nurses were uni graduates with no practical knowledge. Without the mature experience nurses and physios it would have been as an awful experience as the first.
    On friday the op on the wednesday the ‘office lady said ‘you could check out today and if you have a problem you can come back’ (my home is 3000 kms from adelaide) I said I am not ‘checking out’ till a doctor has seen my knee(the body language screamed inconvenience). At 8pm a doctor, dressed for dinner, came spent less than 10 sec and said discharge friday.
    Personal experiences are not ‘statistics’ but private hospitals are for ingrown toenails, piles or natural childbirth for anything else make sure the private is part of or bloody near public.
    As for schooling for profit, it matches health in that the aim of profit is shrieking shrkeli.
    more cost from less.
    If little billy doesn’t take his undies out of the wedge the septic tank teaparty will seem like socialism to the aussie poor.

  13. i have a nugget of pure green

    the facade that is the current face of the LNP is destined to crack. There are too many people internally pulling in different directions at the same time as the population is heading in another. And it is in the nature of the people who have been running the show recently to pull some very nasty tricks out of the bag when cornered.

    They are already in election/preservation mode so there will be a few short fuses and twitchy trigger fingers about the place. All it needs is a drop of blood in the water.

  14. mars08

    “… All it needs is a drop of blood in the water”

    All it needs if for the msm to get past their honeymoon with Mr Smooth… and the electorate to start focusing on what’s actually going on.

    Good luck with that!

  15. Nou

    left, right, centre… blah blah blah. nothing has changed. even if we had an election tomorrow, and labor wins, and shorten is our new prime minister. nothing will have changed. we are still getting pissed on, and they are still telling us it is raining.

  16. Max Gross (@Max_Gross)

    Actually it was under John Howard that the LIEbral Party “made a hard turn to the right on practically everything”. Abbott just kept going in the same direction, with bells on.

  17. Mark Needham

    ”Can Labor convince the electorate that they were better at running an economy?”

    Running an economy, Yes, running it into the ground. That money was wasted, piddled up against the wall can not be denied., the electorate doesn’t need convincing.
    Pretty sure, that they know all ready.
    Mark Needham

  18. Möbius Ecko

    I have no doubt Labor wasted money as every single government in our history has done. So that cannot be denied and the electorate doesn’t need convincing that any party wastes money, they know it and it’s proven to them nearly every day.

    But I would like to know what Mark Needham thinks were the last Labor governments’ particular wastes say as compared to the profligate and biggest waster in our history in Howard?

  19. Möbius Ecko

    “There are too many people internally pulling in different directions at the same time as the population is heading in another.”

    And externally like Murdoch, IPA, Menzies House, Big Business, e.g.coal, gas, right wing shock jocks, RWNJs and many more. Some with the same agendas but many with opposing agendas all based on what they can wring from the public teat and screw everyone else.

    The Liberal party now owes its existence to so many self interested very greedy entities that its being torn apart attempting to appease them all so as to keep the funding rolling in. A hornets nest of their own making.

  20. Faye Cox

    Why is it that Coalition voters seem to have a huge mental blockage with Labor managing the economy ?
    The fact that the totally unfair 2014 Budget has not been passed, and the 2015 Budget, same unfairness simply dressed in different “clothes”, certainly indicates that the Coalition hasn’t got a clue when it comes to the economy. Let’s not forget too, that Australia’s foreign debt has increased under the supposed “experts”.

  21. eli nes

    mark is as usual is absolutely wrong, especially in the view of john kelly ‘The new treasurer, Scott Morrison has already blotted his copy book claiming we only have a spending problem. He is wrong,’
    Sadly labor has been unable to furnish its grassroots with a counter to slogan the debt and economic disaster is labor and the only economic manages are liberal. A slogan which may be a shocking lying pile of poop but it is accepted as truth. In that context the ‘spending problem’ is the slogan for the next election. Who can see little billy combating an election slogan that the ‘spending problem’ was labor when he cannot even give the lie to ‘labor’s economic disaster that left australia with an AAA ECONOMY not the kiwis, the poms, the yanks, the chinese, the japanese. the frogs, the ities, and all but the 8 other AAA countries. Indeed only the bluest of blue singlets would be confident little billy is aware of the damage slogans can do if unchallenged or if anyone in labor has a plan to combat ‘spending problems we have is due to labor’s waste.
    Sorry, Mr Kelly but morrison is right till proven wrong and under the current opposition all shorten will be able to say is ‘such is life’
    ps Faye where have you heard labor talk like that???

  22. Wun Farlung

    If the “That money” you are referring to, is the economic stimulus money spent by the Government during the GFC, I totally disagree.
    “That money” along with other budgetary measures kept our country’s economy growing while most others were contracting.
    “That money” kept me and hundreds of thousands other workers in Australia employed while unemployment rates were becoming double digit in most other countries.
    “That money” built school halls and insulated homes of people that would not be able to do so without a subsidy.
    “That money” was well spent
    “That Money” was our money not just the bloody LNP wing nuts’

  23. Margaret McMillan

    Well spoken Wun Farlung. “That money” rescued Australia. The same policy of spending to provide employment is badly needed now.

    I watch the young people from certain disadvantaged suburbs who congregate in our town centre. They are completely at a loss, without a good education behind them. No-one has ever given them any help to escape the cycle of drugs, alcohol, gambling and unemployment that is their lot simply because they were born to it. There are thousands of young people like this around the country. Through no fault of their own they are unable to take part in those things that many of us take for granted.

    Not one cent spent on the needs of young people who are so disgracefully missing out would be wasted. Governments need to stop focussing on private health care and private schools. They need to spend so that each and every young person in our country has the full range of services available to them. Since Howard we have seen a growing underclass and we ignore them at our peril.

    And before anybody screams about “debt and deficit” I remind them of this comment from Jason Blake (above – thanks Jason)

    “This whole BS about debt & deficit by government is a false premise because as long as it holds a debt in Australian Dollars, then it can never go broke, since it always has the Constitution Powers & capacity to pay it of since it is the creator & issuer of the Australian Currency.”

  24. Mark Needham

    Here is something to chew on, in the meantime.

    An alternative.?

    also, “The same policy of spending to provide employment is badly needed now.” Margaret McMillan.

    * Lets pull buildings down, perfectly good ones, and build another one the same.
    * Give every child player a prize, Oh, a computer would be good, Hey!
    * Get your $100.00 set top box here. Do not buy one yourself for $40.00. Government issue is better.
    * 25 million advertising a Carbon Tax, Gillard promised the Australian people she would not implement. A liar, also like Abbot, but we forget, Hey!
    * ‘n this is only the little bits, the little pieces of ineptitude. “Who me, no, I am perfect, just ask me.” FIG JAM

    The arrogance is amazing, the evil that men do, lives after them.
    Not around here it doesn’t, we are not like that Mark, no one here, of that ilk, only us cute little kittens.

    Mark Needham

    PS. I shall, in future only talk to real people, with real names. proud, brave people who are not scared.
    Not scared of people knowing who they are.
    Not scared of being wrong.
    Not scared of abuse.
    Not scared of admitting error, and correction.
    Not scared of making mistakes.

  25. stephentardrew

    Great article John and food for thought Jason Blake. Just getting past the debt mantra would be a good start.

  26. corvus boreus

    The Australian Liberty Alliance.
    The political face of ‘we-claim straya’, an antipodean tea-party seeking an alliance of Islamophobic bigots, ‘Judeo-Christian’ zealots, ‘total libertarian’ ideologues, rabid anti-environmentalists and frothing ultra-nationalists.
    A far-right ‘alternative’ for those who feel that Tony Abbott’s agenda was much too moderate/progressive.

  27. Mark Needham

    C’mon Corvus boreus, don’t hold back, spit it out man.
    Say what you feel.
    Mark Needham.
    PS. Takes all sorts mate. Just as well, we aren’t as rabid as they.
    Us pussy cats is cute, Hey!

  28. corvus boreus

    Mark Needham,
    You offered up ‘something to chew on’; I tasted it, gagged, then spat it out ([semi-]politely).
    As a rule, I try to not to say what I ‘feel’ online, more often just what I ‘see, hear and think’. What I ‘feel’ is often rather ‘impolite’.
    BTW, As you are deigning to address me, I guess I must fit your arbitrary parameters of a ‘real, proud and brave’ person, Hey!
    Corvus boreus.

  29. randalstella

    Corvus B.
    Nice to hear of your conservation work. Very important to have people with knowledge, intelligence and commitment doing such vital work.
    You are thereby granted dispensation for life from responding to dills.

  30. Matters Not

    granted dispensation for life from responding to dills.

    Do you include the one who said:

    I shall, in future only talk to real people, with real names

    And then apparently did the opposite less than 24 hours later. Unless ‘Mark’ (not sure
    if that’s his real name and how would we ever know. And it matters not because we are about discussing ideas not ‘people’) thinks that corvus boreus is a real name and that the Tasmania raven has developed the skill to ‘conceptualise’ and communicate at a sophisticated level.

    My advice to this particular and peculiar ‘Mark’ is to become familiar with the Dunning Kruger effect.

    And yes I am aware it could apply to me as well.

  31. Mark Needham

    “to suffer from illusory superiority,….”
    Exactly that, which I have been saying for a few weeks now.
    When and where, do I, Mark Needham, get this “authority” to behave, so.

    Where do I get off. ( me, myself, a female….no, really, Mark Needham)

    To have an opinion, makes a person vulnerable, to those who disagree.
    It is amazing that in the act of stating “something,” that, the statement draws an array of comments, which all try to belittle and denigrate the person making that statement.
    Not a comment or conversation on the “statement”, but, the person making it.

    The fact that the conversation is/has become personal, seems to detract from the act, of even trying to say something.

    That I am fishing, here, should be by now, bloody obvious. That I have had a few nibbles, also obvious.
    Throwing back those that I…….. No, I can not say that, because then I have become the same that, I speak against., ie, Attack the messenger, not the message.

    Please let us know, who, in history, has the greater impact:-
    * those who are real, with a name, visible to the world.!
    * he or she, a blip on a radar screen, no name, no identity!

    A conversation is all that I request.
    Yes, I am ugly.
    Yes, I am old..ish.
    Yes, I am a retard.
    Yes, I am wrong.
    Yes, I have voted Conservative.
    Yes, I am not Martin Luther King.
    Yes, I have voted Labour.
    Yes I am not Stalin.
    Yes, I am a 67 year old man, trying to have a conversation. Is that wrong?

    I can accept all of that, but please, yes, please, converse. Is that too much to ask?

    Mark Needham.
    Qld. Aust.


    New, to me. What a good insight into the human phsyche. ‘n I wonder if the shoe fits. Could well do, more than likely both feet.
    Oh, and Thank You for the link

  32. corvus boreus

    Thank you, point taken.

  33. Kaye Lee

    I don’t know the name of the person who invented the wheel. Does that make it any less a game-changing invention?
    If you are only interested in the message rather than the messenger, why are names relevant?

  34. Mark Needham

    Yes. I see it now.
    Verbal masturbation, is what this site is all about.
    The verbal I can handle.
    I shall leave the rest with you.

    Ah well, I tried. Can’t do more than that.

    Mark Needham

  35. Neil of Sydney

    f during this period Howard had raised taxes on Business & Resources, then we would have had a Reserve Fund that could have been used during the 2008 GFC

    This is a stupid statement. Australians in general and Labor voters in particular do not like govts saving money. I have never seen a Labor govt do this.

    Kennet lost govt in Victoria because people were sick of his surplus budgets and wanted no surplus budgets but for the money spent on themselves.

    Same thing with the Howard/Costello govt. They paid off $96B of debt, started a $80B Future Fund and left $40B in the kitty plus other stuff eg HEEF. They saved over $200B in just 11 years and lost office because people were sick of surplus budgets.

  36. Pingback: The AIM NetworkNews and PoliticsA Political Watcher’s Pig Heaven A Political Watcher’s Pig Heaven | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  37. Mark Needham

    corvus boreus
    Matters NotOctober 6, 2015 at 10:56 pm
    Yeah, been a while. Just clicked on an old link, and found T.H.I.S.
    At this time, some, bloody hell, nearly 12 months later, I am concerned that I held my breath and bit me tongue.
    The acknowledgement of the fact of your existence, was in retrospect, as that to a Dog Turd, on the foot path.
    To have stood in it would be to the benefit of no one. To not admit its existence, would be the same folly, that oft drifts with the vapours of a smelly “Dog Turd” that are clogging up this ”blog”

    It really is amazing, that after all this time, I have finally “Thunk up this Reply”
    Such a shame that you will not see it, or reflect on your complicity, in the distribution and laying of said ‘Dog Turd’
    Inwardly chuckly,
    Mark Needham
    No dogs were injured in this diatribe.

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