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Boys Club Beneficiary Gives Opinion On Quotas and the Quality Of Women

This week we have witnessed white people instructing Aboriginal people about what is or is not racism. We have witnessed the Speaker of the House who has been exposed to be a serial breaker of rules, receive backing from the Prime Minister to remain in the job which will decide who else breaks the rules. Now we have Jamie Briggs, Member for Mayo, a former PM staffer elevated into a blue ribbon seat by The Boys Club, giving his opinion on ‘quotas and the quality of women in parliament.’ Has the world gone mad?

Just like Ron Boswell on Q & A last week; Jamie Briggs, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development – is the perfect example of an ignorant, shouty, self-important, narcissistic male politician who thinks they can either talk over the top of women, or view what women have to say as irrelevant. Politicians such as Briggs think that the only opinion that matters is the opinion of conservative men. Politicians like Briggs believe that politics is the rightful place of men. Such audacity coming from a man who was projected into a safe Liberal seat by the Liberal Party Boys Club. You can read the expose of Briggs’ trashy comments by Max Chalmers in New Matilda.

Politicians such as Briggs take a dig at a Quota system, but he doesn’t stop for a minute to acknowledge ‘jobs for the boys’ as quota based at all. He must have a short memory or must be extremely ignorant if he believes that Springborg was appointed Leader of Queensland LNP over Fiona Simpson, based on merit. He must have amnesia if he can’t remember The Liberal Party Boys Club – the prominent and powerful men who backed his own candidate bid for the seat of Mayo.

Let’s have a quick look at the members of the Boys Club who helped out their mate Briggs:

Downer stepped down from the front bench after the election and announced his resignation from parliament on July 14, 2008, initiating a by-election on September 6. The Liberal preselection was won by Jamie Briggs, whose work in the Prime Minister’s Office as chief adviser on industrial relations linked him closely and perhaps dangerously with the development of WorkChoices. Backed by John Howard, Alexander Downer and state party operative Chris Kenny, Briggs won the pre-selection vote in the seventh round by 157 to 111 over Iain Evans, former state Opposition Leader and member for Davenport. The Australian reported Briggs was pushed over the line by the preferences of third-placed Matt Doman, a former staffer to Right faction warlord Senator Nick Minchin. (Exerpt Courtesy of Crikey)

So there we go, a PM staffer winning a candidate bid over a former experienced State Opposition Leader. I’m sure it is all merit based. Let’s weigh the candidate bid up: Giving advice to the PM on the worst Industrial Relations Policy Australia has ever had (Briggs) versus experience as a former State Opposition Leader and experience as the Minister for Environment & Heritage, Industry & Trade and Recreation, Sport and Racing (Evans). Yep, checks out as merit based. Nothing Boys-Club-Smelly about that at all.

I often think of ‘jobs for the boys’ like this:

Hubby and his mates are sitting on the couch watching the television. His wife has just cooked a delicious meal which hubby and the boys have just finished. His wife has just baked a chocolate cake for desert and places it on the coffee table in front of them. His wife goes off to clean up all the dirty plates, wash up, sweep and mop the floor. When his wife finishes all the work, she goes into the lounge-room for her piece of cake. There is one piece just sitting there. She steps towards it. Hubby puts his hand over the top of the cake. “Hang on love.” He says. “Any of you boys want another?” The boys all nod in agreement. Hubby then has a joke and a tussle around with the boys and they all decide which one of boys gets the last piece. It was Dave.

The moral of the story is: No matter how great a woman’s work is, or how much hard work women do, often, when men are in power to decide what women get for their efforts; they will have a woman’s cake and eat it too.

At the ALP National Conference last weekend, the ALP decided to raise the bar and achieve 50% of women in Parliament by 2025. In light of this, some Liberal Party women are also pushing for an increase. This is not a new push for Liberal Party women. Liberal Party women have raised this issue many times before. In light of this fact, I question why this is not a prominent topic for discussion, considering the Liberal Party are in Government and the leader of their party is indeed the Minister for Women. It could possibly be that the boys are too busy eating cake.

I have outlined some of the reasons why we need to redress the imbalance of women in politics and I have outlined some of the challenges faced by women in the Liberal party. I have also briefly outlined my personal view, that we need to ensure that we use quotas in a fair and just way.

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 44/142 countries for women in national parliaments. According to UNWomen in Politics 2015; Australia only has 26.7% of women in Parliament.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women.

However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

  • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
  • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
  • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
  • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government. Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation. The main reasons are:

  • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
  • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of female MPs.”

I believe a holistic approach is required. To achieve equality, it is essential to determine the issues for women electorate by electorate, branch by branch. Not just review the policies and procedures and place a blanket decision of quotas on all. What may occur in an inner-Melbourne seat, may not occur in a far north QLD seat for example. The reasons women may or may not put their hand up for selection, may also differ from seat to seat. To achieve a redress of the imbalance, this issue cannot be looked at in isolation, nor can it be looked at from a top down approach.

To redress this imbalance, all parties need to have an in-depth look at the culture within each branch and determine branches where this is an issue. Although there will be branches where women simply will not feel empowered; there will be some branches or electorates for all parties where there may not be a problem for women to feel encouraged to nominate, or be selected. There is no point going in blind and hitting electorates willy-nilly with quotas. I’m all for quotas, but quotas need to be used as a respectful tool, to redress the imbalance. All parties need to understand the underlying constructs of the problem by fixing the imbalance from ground level as well.

We also need to use quotas in a fair and just way so talented men do not get shut out either, or it defeats the purpose. If a tool such as quotas was used as a power-play to politicise the selection of a seat, that is not fair, nor just, nor used for its rightful purpose. For example, if the tool of quotas was used to keep an Indigenous male out of the race, or a homosexual man out of the race or a male candidate who may champion green energy, where many branch members supported coal based energy; I would feel very strongly that this makes a mockery of all the women who have fought for equality. This is why it is very important to understand this issue from ground level as well.

Prominent leaders and executives cannot lead this change with a laizze-faire leadership style. They need to roll their sleeves up and meet with women in branches to understand the culture at ground level, as well as revise policy. A risk management system, along with a system of appeal needs to be put into place.

A review of the 2013 federal election, indicates that The Green’s party ran slightly more women candidates, but no party had more than 50% of women candidates. The number of candidates run also needs to be contextualised into ‘seats that can be won’ against ‘seats that never will be’. There would be no point increasing the number of women candidates in a left party and allocating them to blue ribbon seats and vice versa. A holistic approach is required.

Some positive steps are occurring, but I wait in angst in the hope that a fair, well informed and inclusive system is achieved to redress this imbalance.

Jamie Briggs also needs to go check himself if he thinks for one second that women find his opinion on quotas valid or important.

Originally Published on Polyfeministix


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  1. Bronte ALLAN

    WTF?? What planet does this “Minister for Women” (?) come from?

  2. babyjewels10

    Well said, Trish!

  3. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear, Trish Corry,

    quotas are necessary for equal women’s representation in political representation. 50/50 in winnable seats and nothing less is acceptable.

  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Dear Harquebus,

    even evil Engels saw how the systematic subordination of women has led to a class society that continues to deny opportunities to all of us through the denial and expression of women’s talents. Stupid, huh!

    So, since we assumably agree that women’s talents should not be wasted, I advocate we enhance the women’s representational pool to 65% so to ensure there are wide ranging opportunities to gain 50% women’s representational outcomes.

    Yep, that’s unashamed affirmative action.

    Then, these benchmarks can filter promptly throughout all echelons of the community.

    Nothing less is acceptable.

  5. Harquebus

    “Dear Harquebus”!
    Jennifer, you are a gem.

  6. Melinda Johnston

    I wonder your thoughts on Machala Nash, the non- feminist liberal MP, assisting the prime minister on woman?

  7. Harquebus

    Rosalind Franklin is by far, the woman that I admire most. Discoverer of the DNA double helix, her discovery was stolen from her before she realized what she had. She later developed stomach cancer due to the radiation from her experiments and died a painful death. That was her reward in lieu of the Nobel Prize that was rightly hers.

    I think that some here will relate to this video.

    DNA – Secret of Photo 51
    h ttps://

  8. corvus boreus

    The Greens have thus far managed 64% female federal representation.
    Their current senate make-up is 70% female (7 of 10)
    In the lower house, they have a long way to go, remaining 100% male (1 of 1).

  9. corvus boreus

    I think the ALP needs more Louise Pratt and less Joe Bullock, in a more than chromosomal context.

  10. Lee

    Did anyone watch the Q and A episode in March in commemoration of International Women’s Day? The episode was hosted by Annabel Crabb and Julie Bishop was one of the guests.

    Julie said that she couldn’t imagine doing her job with its frequent travel if she had a family to care for. I was quite surprised that the bias in this had never occurred to her, because she gave excellent responses to other questions. I’ll bet no one told Alexander Downer he couldn’t do the job because he has four children. Considering the scorn that was heaped upon Julia Gillard’s partner by the conservatives for being a mere hairdresser, I can well imagine that Julie Bishop would not be reaching the heights in the Liberal Party if she had a house husband in tow. I was also very surprised that Annabel let that one go without adding a question of her own, since she is the author of a very good book addressing this topic (The Wife Drought).

    As an aside, if anyone wants to recommend any reading material in this vein, please do so.

  11. Trish Corry

    The figures mentioned are candidate figures. And I don’t get excited about their stats due to the low numbers they have. They are on the right track though it appears from an objective viewpoint

  12. Trish Corry

    I wouldn’t disagree there.

  13. trishcorry

    Lee just to clarify, are you interested in work / life family balance or women in politics?

  14. Lee

    Work and family balance, Trish, and the unconscious bias that exists in workplaces. Politics can be considered a workplace too.

  15. Trish Corry

    Lee, I have added to the bottom of this article on my own blog polyfeministix (see link at the bottom of this article) three work life family balance articles particular to Australia for you. If you would like generic ones as well let me know. For a report on women in politics see the link within this blog post above for Waring et. el.’s work.

  16. Andrew Dumas

    The LNP does believe in quotas; for rich, white men.

  17. i have a nugget of pure green

    “The moral of the story is: No matter how great a woman’s work is, or how much hard work women do, often, when men are in power to decide what women get for their efforts; they will have a woman’s cake and eat it too.”

    this statement is about as offensive as the discrimination you fight against and just as wrong.

    here is a clue. Women are just as fully capable of being an absolute wanker as any man. Bronwyn Bishop is your living of proof of this.

    So how about lay off man bashing and focus on the actual problem, that of the culture of the organisation that is limiting opportunities for women and not focus on the gender. We are not the enemy and i for one am getting sick of having to bear that generic label from people who should know better.

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    True Nugget,

    you don’t necessarily deserve the blame for the traditional and cultural disadvantage that women face. But you could acknowledge that when balancing all the opportunities open to girls/women and boys/men over the time of your life alone, the balance sheet comes out in favour of males.

    If you want to know why I’m pissed off, it’s coz people like you still ignore this basic truth.

    And therefore give the various parties the opportunities to dismiss this most central and basic relevance too. You’re playing into their effing discriminatory hands.

  19. corvus boreus

    Based upon statistics of religious beliefs alone, there is world-spread institutionalised discrimination against women.
    For starters, any adherent to the majority monotheistic (1 god) faiths, particularly Abrahamic variants (Judaist, Christian, Moslem) sees the underpinning and overseeing of the cosmos as singularly masculine, and the female as a subservient convenience.
    This patriarchal predominance has overflow into society, ‘man’ifested (see dat?) in cultural attitudes and practices.
    That should change.

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear corvus.

    Blatant and insidious degradation of women should be disintegrated at all levels of society. You blame the various religions. I don’t dispute that.

    But, we can also look closer to home. That is, how have we been introduced to our immediate births and family circumstances then maybe the unintentional continuation of women’s disadvantage. Nothing like daily persecution or one might say, restrictions.

    SO, political leadership/s! Show some guts and get Genuine equal Women & Men representation in ALL echelons of our socio-economic-political system started NOW.

  21. Lee

    Thanks Trish.

  22. Trish Corry

    You are welcome Lee. Work-Life family balance is one of my key areas of research interest; so by all means, please let me know if you want anymore papers to read. I’m easily found on Facebook or Twitter if you want to send your email and I’ll send you more papers direct.

  23. i have a nugget of pure green

    jennifer, I am a gay and in my late 40’s.

    talk to me about blatant and insidious degradation,
    talk to me about being beaten up on the street for no other reason than being a poof,
    talk to me about depression and suicide being a major risk factor when young
    talk to me about losing your family as a result of being who you are.
    talk to me about your very nature being branded a disease, a disorder an abhorrant abherration
    talk to me about hate murders and rape of gay people
    talk to me about the treatment of gay people at the hands of the establishment throughout history
    talk to me about violence and persecution of gay people by police
    talk to me about the extermination of gay people alongside the Jews and the Gypsies in WW2
    talk to me about religion that pushes the concept that homosexuals are better off dead,
    talk to me about fundamental rights (e.g. marraige) being with held to this day,
    talk to me about being spat on by people desperate to make themselves better by demeaning me and my friends in the street.

    and you have the gall to lecture me about ignoring the truth. you are blind to your own hypocrisy.

    I have a far better word than feminism to describe the desire for equality of the sexes, equality of opportunity and equality of merit,


  24. Trish Corry

    Thanks Jennifer for your response to Nugget. That is spot on. I have experienced with other blog posts I have written about women’s issues, that SOME men will see one line or even one word and portray me as a man hater. As an old school liberal feminist, I do not adopt even remotely the man hating stance. Liberal feminism includes men. Liberal feminism acknowledges that some men also experience discrimination due to the heterosexual-masculine homogeneity which does stereo type men and discriminate against them in many areas, such as in workplaces, or the ingrained cultural norms of women being readily accepted where men can experience discrimination, such as parenting and custody issues.

    I do take the time to ensure you include words which do not point to “all men” when discussing men’s responses such as “…often, when men are in power to decide what women get for their efforts;” I also discussed in the blog post about how we need to adopt practices to ensure talented men are not left out. Or acknowledging quotas can also be used as a powerful tool to keep men out, therefore calling for risk management practices, and understanding each area from the ground up etc.,

    I do find it disappointing that some would rather label me a man hater, simply because I am talking about women, than acknowledging that I have addressed the issue to also include men. Men who do this, only silence constructive discussion between men and women and I find that pointless in a way forward to progress.

  25. i have a nugget of pure green

    or do i not matter? or is discrimination against me ok as i am not a woman or am of a minority? or is my opinion irrelevant as i am a man? do you see how close to becoming that which you oppose you could be, although “you don’t necessarily deserve the blame”.

    You see, i did notice your implication of my “guilt” through blurring the accusation, nice work. it speaks of you.

  26. i have a nugget of pure green

    Trish. perhaps you could indicate where i accused you of being a man hater.

    take what you wrote in response to Jennifer and consider it in terms of projection on me. or is it easier to label me and ignore the point i attempt to make?

    irrespective, good luck to you, i will ensure that i no longer read articles published by yourself. that way i will not be offended by what i perceive as reverse sexism and you can continue in your own way.

  27. Trish Corry

    Nugget, I apologise, if you feel offended. However, I really do not understand where you are coming from. I have specifically addressed in this blog post scenarios where MEN can be discriminated against using a tool of quotas, as it CAN be used as a powerful tool in politics to discriminate against men, if someone wanted to.

    Your opinion certainly is not irrelevant. The issues you raised in your dot points above absolutely speak to the exact reasons WHY I have addressed these types of issues. Where I have mentioned quotas to keep out an Aboriginal man, could very well be the same for a gay man. This is because the masculine stereotypes or what is known in some circles as “white male privilege’ also indeed discriminate against some men who do not fit the white, affluent, privilege, masculine, heterosexual male. I completely acknowledge this and I’m sorry if this was not more evident in my post to you.

    It is frustrating to me, as someone who takes this stance in all of my work (to include where men are discriminated against) to be labelled a man hater. Many men see modern feminists and some of the things they say or their attitudes towards men and automatically assume all feminists adopt this strand of feminism. Not all feminists come from this new strand of feminism. I am 45 years old. I was attracted to liberal feminism, because of the reason that men who are not the male stereotype are also discriminated against. As a person from a regional area where homosexual men and aboriginal men also are discriminated against due to the reasons outlined in the second paragraph this is important to me.

    I’m sorry, I do not understand what your last line means.

  28. Trish Corry

    You asked me to lay off the man bashing. I took that as hating men.

  29. Trish Corry

    Thanks for your wishes of good luck. If you no longer read my blog posts, you no longer read them. That is not in my control. I write about things passionate to me. Whether one person reads my posts or one thousand people read my posts makes me just as happy. I am simply compelled – driven even to write about some issues and share my thoughts and blogging is a good way to share my thoughts with others.

  30. i have a nugget of pure green

    i was responding to Jennifer re the last line, her original comment came through as a bit of a backhander as to my character.

    I feel what you seek is a matter of time, change happens one death at a time as they say. and our law makers are reactive, not leaders, as and when society demands it in a loud enough voice then they have to change. I suspect that is the purpose of feminism, make enough noise so they HAVE to change.

    i have issue with the concept of “men” being the behemoth when I see it more as the SYSTEM, that for one reason or another, insists on its own continuation, i.e. the gateways to power and hence the ability to change the law, that are admittedly currently administered by old white men. But they will inevitably lose power, mortality will see to that. The next generation has very different ideas about things.

    I am all for equality between everyone, irrespective, we are all people whatever your background. and it hurts on a very personal level (and i am sure i am not alone in this) when people who are with you are lumped together as part of the problem. I don’t know if that angle has ever been considered in feminist circles, how much that wounds men, just because we don’t tend to talk about our feelings, doesn’t mean they don’t run deep.

    we are not the enemy, but by ways subtle, gross or indifferent we can be easily made to feel that way. It would be far easier for men to help feminism achieve what needs to be done if they are not being made to feel guilty and attacked for being men, irrespective of whether that was ever the intention or not.

    the problem isn’t men or women, the problem is people, I just wished people could stop pointing fingers at each other long enough to learn to shake hands.

  31. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    don’t try to hijack this discussion by making it sound that I, or some others, condone the ugly practice of ‘gay bashing’. Any true humanitarian, as I consider myself to be, condemns that as well.

    Trish’s blog does a good job of being inclusive in its language, so that men are also treated with respect and not disadvantaged, if they don’t fit the rich, white, hetero guy stereotype.

    This discussion is premised on the rights to equality for women and men 50/50. Nothing less is good enough. YOU fit those perimetres. Just as I – and everyone else reading this post does too.

  32. Adrienne

    There is something inherently wrong with the ways by which we select candidates, promote ministers, hire employees, and select civil and community leaders, to produce the degree of under-representation of women that we see in Australia. If we can assume that human intelligence and ability is distributed roughly equally across the population, it would follow that there are as many women potentially able to fill leadership positions as men. And yet, that doesn’t happen.

    Clearly, the way we go about selecting and recruiting is not looking in the right places, or in the right ways, to identify all able candidates of both genders.

    Clearly, in the process of selecting and recruiting, we are not doing enough to challenge our beliefs and assumptions about the best ways to identify and select the best candidates.

    I’ve heard the argument that “many women don’t want to take on leadership roles/ministerial roles/prominent roles/etc”. That is just a cop-out, and ignores the very significant numbers of women who do, and who have the capabilities to perform well.

    Quotas are one way; but I believe very strongly that we need to challenge the way we go about selection and recruitment. The way we do it at present has BIG blind spots that ensure a large proportion of talent in the community goes under-used and under-represented.

  33. Lee

    “Quotas are one way; but I believe very strongly that we need to challenge the way we go about selection and recruitment. The way we do it at present has BIG blind spots that ensure a large proportion of talent in the community goes under-used and under-represented.”

    Agreed, Adrienne. Quotas don’t inform people about prejudices and unconscious bias.

  34. jimhaz

    Abbott is most probably partly correct on this point (not entirely correct as women will approach equal representation). I for one only desire no higher than 40% representation by women, even though the men are not doing a great job.

    The pool of women seeking political careers remains a lot less than the pool of men, other than in a few areas. The idea of quotas in such a dynamic will not produce the most meritorious ministers. I’m not convinced they have the same long term drive and put in the same level of long term effort.

    On the conservative side there are intrinsic problems with women who are conservatives. Too many are like Thatcher or B Bishop or Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin or Mirabella. Wishing to have more of those representing us would be a very bad thing.

    Too many mothering types (as per the Greens stats) is also a bad thing as it would lead to too much expenditure due to excessive levels of compassion and an unwillingness to implement policies where tough love is needed. They would also implement too many rules. I personally believe too many women can be too easily lead astray by certain charismatic or domineering males.

    I’d prefer a merit situation where at least 1/3rd of the 20% (LNP) and 40% (ALP/Greens) total of women who gain positions would be of a higher average class of competence than the males. In my working career I’ve had a preference for women managers, but that is mainly when they are highly skilled. It is because they have better people skills and most importantly less ego so listen better. Men tend to have better lateral thinking, which I hope at some point will be able to be used to create the best policies.

  35. Trish Corry

    Adrienne, I completely agree. My background is as an academic in HR and management, so I am very pleased you have raised these points. The argument for quotas initially would be that it does indeed challenge internal and unconscious bias and places women (and other disadvantaged groups) into roles they have been traditionally excluded from. This in turn allows the unconscious bias to change over time, as the previously excluded group is seen excelling in that role. I am old enough to remember when applications for women in an emergency service I worked for, were not considered at all. Now we see women in this role and excelling in this role. That was only in 1987-1989. I also personally have experienced rejection from a job because I was a single mother, although they said I was their first choice. That was in 1996. So even if we have made progress in some areas, people who still have these assumptions are still in the workforce making these decisions and they most certainly are in politics.

    I am for quotas, but only when there is identified disadvantage, as I spoke to in my post. My aim would be for quotas to be made redundant, and that a true merit based system could prevail; such as you have discussed above. The Mathematician at Sydney Uni on Qanda last night made a very valid point. That is we need to do everything we can for women to take up (science) roles, as young women need mentors and women role models they aspire to be. It is the same in politics. Until the assumptions and unconscious bias are eliminated, I would argue that quotas are required to achieve this.

    I am working on cleansing data at the moment for an analysis of gender in Australian politics at present. First impressions are the Liberal/National party definitely is lagging behind, with some women unable to even get a foot in the door, due to the longevity of the male members in some rural seats and the voting patterns of these electorates. For this to change, I believe women in rural seats need to challenge sitting members, or rules for length of time as the sitting member needs to be revised by parties where this could be a hindrance to gender equality. Anyway, that is for another day. I have not finished the analysis on this yet, as there is a lot of data, but I’ll post it in the next week.

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’m looking forward to your update of the analysis, Trish, so that some of the archaic assumptions made about women’s involvement in central and influential decision-making roles can develop without the hindrances of unconscious bias, or just plain old ignorance.

  37. Trish Corry

    Thanks Jennifer.

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