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A rushed law, a bad law

Written By: - Date published: 5:11 pm, October 29th, 2010 - 53 comments
Categories: Parliament, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Charles Chauvel made a very good point about the Hobbit Enabling Act that National pushed through Parliament on Warner Bros’ instructions and National’s lawmaking practice in general last night.

The HBA says that the provision that all film workers are contractors “does not apply if the person is a party to, or covered by, an employment agreement that provides that the person is an employee.”

What this is meant to do is say ‘you’re an employee if you are called an employee in your contract, if not, you’re a contractor’. The problem is that it doesn’t say that. Straight off, you can see the definition is sort of circular: ‘you’re an employee if you’re an employee’ but it gets worse because to define ’employment agreement’ we rely on the very case that this law is meant to be supersede.

To understand, we have to go back to the Bryson case. Bryson was employed (without a written contract) by 3-foot six (a Jackson company) working fixed 8-hour days. He had a set lunch break, he got training, he was paid $18 an hour. In every way, you would describe him as an employee of 3-foot six. Six months in, the bosses presented Bryson and his workmates with contracts that referred to them as ‘independent contractors’. Bryson objected, because he didn’t want to lose his employment rights and have the employers’ GST and ACC costs lumped on him.

The Surpreme Court decided, in keeping with well established law, to apply the ‘duck rule’ – if it looks like an employment relationship (set work hours, breaks, expectations of holiday pay etc), it is an employment relationship. It was held that Bryson in fact did have an employment agreement and was an employee, despite 3 foot six attempting to make him into an independent contractor.

Following that ruling the law was clear: it is the facts of the employment relationship that give rise to the employment agreement, not the mere words on the paper the bosses thrust under the worker’s nose. The law was so settled that there has not been one more case over whether a worker is an employee or a contractor in the five and a half years since it was decided.

So, let’s go back to the law: the provision that all film workers are contractors “does not apply if the person is a party to, or covered by, an employment agreement that provides that the person is an employee.”

How do you define an employment agreement? Bosses will say that it’s simple, if the contract calls the worker an employee they have an employment agreement. But the Hobbit Enabling Act doesn’t expressly say that, so we have to go to case law.

Since the Bryson case hasn’t been explicitly overridden by this law its findings still stand. Bryson still forms the basis of how ’employment agreement’ is defined, ie on the facts, not on the mere wording. Or, at least, that’s a strong argument that many people will make if their employer tries to reclassify them as an independent contractor.

Before workers and employers knew that if they were, on the facts of the working relationship, in an employment relationship then the workers had employment rights. Now, the workers might say ‘the facts of my work mean I have an employment agreement, therefore my employment rights remain’ while the bosses might say ‘no you don’t, your contract says that makes you a contractor’.

So, the ‘problem’ hasn’t been solved at all. ‘Certainty’ hasn’t been provided. In fact, there’s greater uncertainty.

There will be many people right now looking at their working relationships and contracts to try to work out how to apply the HBA and Bryson, and who is an employee and who is a contractor. Reasonable people will disagree with strong arguments, which will lead to court cases.

Speaking in what appears to be Gabblese, Key seems to be acknowledging that the law doesn’t actually do what it purports to do:

“I rely on PCO and the lawyers to put all that stuff together. It’s never a perfect process going through urgency, we acknowledge and accept that, even when it’s a clarification for law. As a general rule we try and send legislation through a proper process right through to the select committee, just sometimes that’s not the case and this is not one of them.”

Take away the mangled syntax and information-free statements (yes, John we know it didn’t go to select committee, the question is why not) and Key is saying ‘yeah, we rushed and we stuffed up but I’m relaxed about it’.

Don’t you love a Prime Minister who refers to the law that he has just forced the Parliament to go into over-time to pass as “all the stuff”?

This is what you get when you rush through poorly thought-out laws. Whenever a new law is passed people have to look at it and decide how it applies to them in the real world. When the drafting is vague and doesn’t wholly address the existing situation, people are going to have strong and legitimate disagreements on how to interpret the new law and those disagreements have to be decided in court. It can be better to have settled law that is sub-optimal rather than constantly changing the law so nobody knows where they stand.

If this law had gone through select committee it would almost certainly have come out with this problematic drafting fixed so that there could be no confusion as to what an employment agreement is.

Which is exactly why you don’t rush though laws. But it’s National’s standard practice to do so. It has rushed through all kinds of legislation with vague definitions that are now leading to court cases.

Rushed law is not good law. By abusing the lawmaking process and slamming half-arse bills through Parliament, National is simply creating more problems for the future.

PS. I’ve just watched Chauvel’s third reading speech. Apparently, Wilkinson added a last minute amendment that an employment agreement must be in writing, thinking this cleared up the problem Chauvel has identified. As Chavuel explains, this doesn’t clear things up – it makes things worse. He also points out that by weakening labour laws, we’ve violated the China Free Trade Agreement. God, how embarrassing.

53 comments on “A rushed law, a bad law”

  1. The further problem is that “Employment Agreement” is defined in the legislation as the “contract of service”. As recognised in Bryson this can include verbal as well as written terms, depending on how the contract is formed. So it seems very likely to me that the Court will have to apply the Bryson case to see if there is an employment agreement.

    If there is, the amendment does not apply. If there is not then the amendment does apply but does not change anything.

    There was a SOP introduced today by the Government which I have not seen. It may have fixed this problem up. The mere fact that a SOP had to be introduced for such a short bill emphasises why urgency was so stupid. They should have sent it to a select committee.

    • toad 1.1

      Micky, the SOP related to employment agreements having to be in writing. It is a travesty of the principle of open governemtn that is still doesn’t appear on the Parliamentary website or on legislation.govt.nz.

      And I think you and Charles Chauvel are correct. If a purported “contract” actually has conditions in it that meet the test of the “contractor” actually being an employee, the Employment Court will accept jurisdiction and accordingly decide the “contract” is actually an employment agreement.

      This is what Government gets when it rams stuff through under urgency without Select Committe submissions and scrutiny. There are hole in this that don’t need a bulldozer to drive through, just as there were when the Nats similarly rammed through the fire@will Bill and the Employment Court’s judgment in Heather Smith’s case has now come to bite them on the bum.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    I have a feeling that the Key Government simply wants to make a point to unions and to the Labour Party. The week after Labour Day just adds salt to the wounds.

    Give them a bit of money and National will happily sell our sovereignty for a song.

  3. The Voice of Reason 3

    A thing worth knowing about Bryson v the Jackson company is that it wasn’t unique. It’s just the most recent example of a ruling that has been made regularly in employment courts around the world since there first was a legal concept of ’employee’.

    Usually the cases are about the different entitlements or treatment a worker gets under either option and at a guess, most, like Bryson, would determine whether a worker had the ability to lodge a presumably more advantageous personal grievance case in Employment Court.

    I’ve seen Jackson’s attitude many times. Otherwise well meaning employers who see workers organising collectively as ingratitude or disrespect. Warner Bros didn’t give a damn about the law. They only played along as a favour to their business partner, Peter Jackson, who is the one with a five year grudge and a reason to whinge. Warners were only there for the cash, helping St Peter out was a bonus. And having the leader of a democratic country dance for nickels like the broken arse town drunk was probably pretty kewl too. They’ll be laughing that bit up in a cigar bar somewhere on Sunset Blvd as we speak.

    • pollywog 3.1

      …having the leader of a democratic country dance for nickels like the broken arse town drunk was probably pretty kewl too. They’ll be laughing that bit up in a cigar bar somewhere on Sunset Blvd

      eh !!!

      He does a pretty mean poll dance too.

      I mean, don’t you just wanna get pissed and stuff a note down his knickers ?

    • Tigger 3.2

      Bryson is not unique also in that the film, and TV, industry are full of people who are contracted as contractors but expected to act like employees. Its the industry’s dirty little abuse and just like secret abuse anyone who dares speak up is vilified. All this crap about being wanting to be contractors is just that – they don’t have a choice and most of them weren’t in the industry pre-Employment Contracts Act so this is all they know.

      TVOR – “having the leader of a democratic country dance for nickels like the broken arse town drunk ” – this is easily the funniest, and most accurate, description of Key I’ve read – will never look at him again without this springing to mind – brilliant.

      • The Voice of Reason 3.2.1

        Cheers, Tigger, I wish I had the skills to animate it. It’d probably be even better with Brownlee in it too, maybe dressed in a beer barrel held up with braces and blowing frantically on a broken harmonica. Nice.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    No matter, King Gerry can sort it out in two ticks.

  5. Steve Withers 5

    This has all been fascinating to watch. Makes me wonder why any sane person would follow a career in the movie industry in NZ or anywhere else. Actors, perhaps….in the hope they become big names and can one day command a very good amount of money. But the technical people behind the scenes? Sounds like a lousy way to earn a crust, frankly. Especially when your own government acts to ensure you can only ever get a job on take-it-or-leave-it terms. I’d be leaving it before I even started.

    • mcflock 5.1

      I’ve known a few actors and techs, admittedly mostly theatre (they’d been in TV and films, but this is NZ). Generally they like doing the job and the entire hooplah of the work, but the techs usually have skillsets and certification to keep them alive between projects if they want to stay in NZ. Worst comes to the worst especially the lighting guys can usually go into the construction industry as they’re already certified to play with high voltage circuits and other poppenze spitzenze sparken things.

      Most of the actors I’ve know got the bulk of their money from customer service work. It’s just the nature of acting that you might be expressive with people, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to other careers in the same way that e.g. journalism and PR are related. But the work itself is pretty high octane – “one crowded hour” and all that.

      But it doesn’t mean they should be treated like third world fry-cooks.

  6. Rob 6

    It always makes bills seem so much more rushed when you look at the bills page on inthehouse this one comes up as 4 pages of debate in a row…

    On the bright side of it being such a stupid law it is likely to have an incredibly limited effect and can just be repealed later…

  7. Hilary 7

    The Court Report will be covering this law next week, TV7 Thursday 9.35. Should be interesting.

  8. ianmac 8

    Actors are necessarily contractors aren’t they? If so, then they copped the blame yet the Act as passed would make no difference to them at all, would it?
    Surely those affected would be techies, receptionists, painters and so on.

    • Rob 8.1

      My understanding was that it will only affect people in the film industry and the gaming industry. It means some full time staff in those industries and regular staff like stunt doubles who may actually work as employees but not have it stated in their contracts will now be declared as contractors. It will be quite a small group I imagine…

      • ianmac 8.1.1

        Asking it another way. Is there any film actor in NZ who is an employee?

        • Rob 8.1.1.1

          If someone was a major/consistent role in a film with a long shooting time it is quite probable they might get hired on a fixed term employment contract rather than as a contractor. It is on the borderline between the two categories and what you are at that point essentially depends on what they want to put in your contract.

  9. Em 9

    One might also ask just how this addresses the original ‘issue’ of actors (who were then and remain contractors) attempting to negotiate a set of minimum conditions for the shoot. If the problem was a planned boycott by overseas actor organisations, it’s hard to see how this helps at all.

    One might also ask what the need was to have the Bill/Act also apply to video game-makers?

    • Rob 9.1

      It wouldn’t affect the current dispute had it already been in place. In terms of including games I guess they couldn’t work out how to distinguish Weta from a game studio in the amount of time they had… Only 1 case has come up for the area this law is dealing with in the film industry. It was surprise surprise though a case against Jackson also 5-6 years ago.

      • mickysavage 9.1.1

        I really get the impression that the law change was for Jackson’s benefit, not Warners.

        Jackson’s companies had to deal with the contracts and pay the employees/contractors. Jackson’s company was the respondent in the Bryson case. Jackson spent a huge amount of money going to the Supreme Court when with a discrete settlement it could have disappeared without him breaking a financial sweat.

        And if Warners were worried about the (remote) possibility of strike action then different sorts of law reform would have appeared.

        The way that I see it the law change is that timid that in financial terms it is not needed, it just makes someone feel better.

        • Rob 9.1.1.1

          Yes that is pretty much exactly as I see it also.

        • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1.2

          maybe. But as I understand the Bryson case the threshold was pretty high. High enough that it hasn’t concerned PJ, (or anyone else), enough to lobby for a legislative fix in the intervening years.

          Sooo, this legislation doesnae fix the industrial issue that triggered the ‘crisis’. Something fixed that issue though, so it must’ve been Helen Kelly’s work resulting in the boycott call off and assurance of no further disruption.

          But oh noes.

          That being sorted before the negotiating team sets foot in Wellington doesn’t suit Warner’s narrative, and it doesn’t suit the government’s. Both those party’s would prefer a pretext for their arranging of tax cutz thank you very much.

          Warner’s held the cards in terms of being able to walk away, but it wasn’t that strong a hand given the costs in walking, the loss of goodwill with fans etc. Still worth playing though especially if you can say there is an industrial issue. It’s worth something, about 30 mill as it turned out.

          The Govt knew there was some risk of Warners walking and knew they would have to give something. They can’t publicly say the industrial issue is sorted though, because that gives a win to Kelly.

          So both warners and the govt knew the pretext was bullshit,

          but neither wanted the pretext out of the way,

          for slightly different reasons,

          so it needed to be dealt with somehow,

          hence

          the Hobbit enabling act.

          That’s my theory, I’m sticking with it.

          • mickysavage 9.1.1.2.1

            OK PB.

            I don’t disagree. I am trying to work out a rational reason for the crisis.

            There must have been a reason for Warners to want the law change. And the obvious reason is that Warners wanted more money.

            So they looked at the crisis and saw that there was a weakness and an issue and so they chose to make this weakness part of the negotiation. It was much better to raise this than to just make the dispute about money. And there was no other issue they could raise.

            So there was no benefit for Warners from the law change. Apart from the cover.

            • ianmac 9.1.1.2.1.1

              Brownlie said in the House that Warners did not ask for the legislation, so Key must have offered it. Did he want a scapegoat?

        • IrishBill 9.1.1.3

          Hmm. Perhaps it should be the “there, there Peter, the mean old courts don’t understand how special you are” amendment.

          • Craig Glen Eden 9.1.1.3.1

            ianmacs right Brownlie was also quoted in the Herald today saying Warners didnt ask for Labour Law changes. So either Brownlie’ lying or Key is.

            Brownlie also admitted that Helen Kelly had played a positive roll in resolving the dispute.

            So maybe Brownlie has had enough of Keys bullshit! It stuck me as odd that Brownlie was deliberately contradicting Key, I am waiting for Brownlie to have to come out and say he got it wrong and it was all as John had said. Pretty embarrassing for Key as it stands.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.4

          Yes, almost purely for Jackson’s benefit. Our democracy is reduced to law changes based on the lobbying of one man. Note the Hobbit law change covers both films and *video games*. Which coincidentally happens to be an area of future growth for WETA. Neat huh.

          • Em 9.1.1.4.1

            You are indeed correct, sirrah

          • QoT 9.1.1.4.2

            And can I just take this moment, when all my film-related acquaintances’ Hobbit-related jobs are safe for the time being, to say I am a bit fucking sick of Mr Cuddly Panda Richard Taylor getting wheeled out to act like an aggrieved party on this one? You’re an employer, Sir Richard, whose staff are almost entirely on short-term rolling contracts with no job security past the next project. Fuck off.

            • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.4.2.1

              And why are those so-called smart staff absolute frakin Lemmings?

              They missed out somewhere along the way in their education.

              • QoT

                Well, when you’ve got one major employer in your industry in the entire country and the boss says “jump”, and also “Look, over there, a threat to your employment that isn’t me!” …

            • Vicky32 9.1.1.4.2.2

              I wonder, why is he a “Sir?”
              Deb

  10. Joe Bloggs 10

    The irony is that without the union-initiated boycott, the law changes – which you claim will weaken workers’ rights – would probably never have happened.

    • The Voice of Reason 10.1

      Almost right. If it wasn’t for Jackson’s arrogant refusal to meet with the actor’s reps, the boycott would never have been called in the first place. The irony remains though, because it’s bloody ironic that even though St Peter successfully hid behind the current laws our craven leader still felt the need to make a meaningless law change as a sop to his hurt feelings.

      • Joe Bloggs 10.1.1

        More Leftist revisionism – check the timelines – the boycott was called before Jackson was approached to meet with the actors’ reps.

        then check out Fran O’Sullivan for an excellent summary of the settlement:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684017

        and Derek Cheng’s timeline – at last some objectivity on this site:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684062

        • Craig Glen Eden 10.1.1.1

          The funny thing is the Tories pass a law that opens the employer up to more potential court room action. Jackson got what he wanted and as the saying goes be careful what you wish for.

          As the facts have shaken down it has become clear according to Brownlie( Both in yesterdays Herald and in Parliment) Warners didn’t want the law changed nor did they ask for it.

          As for Frans summary, I thought it was crap myself but it will get her another bottle of wine no doubt.

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1

            Fran all over the place, making excuses that big Studio money found John Key’s “inflexion point”. WTF, really?

            You mean they read him like an open book in order to walk away with (her figures) $90-100M of tax payers money.

            Looks like we are paying for the damn movie, at the cost of $21 per capita.

          • tea 10.1.1.1.2

            Hi Craig- sorry did Brownlee in the Herald make it to the website? Can’t find it straight off

            • Craig Glen Eden 10.1.1.1.2.1

              Yes it was on the website and he repeated it on Friday in Parliament.

              • tea

                sorry to be a douche…but any chance of a link? I had to really dig to find the bit about the emails showing the boycott had been called off…this has to be hidden fairly well too!

  11. Murray 11

    OH Diddums! some of you lot may need counselling to get over this

    • QoT 11.1

      Ah, the good old equating of disagreement and anger with mental illness. Class.

      • Murray 11.1.1

        what on earth has counselling got to do with mental illness

        • QoT 11.1.1.1

          It’s okay, Murray. I get that you’re in denial about how your comment explicitly linked people’s anger over this decision with distraught/traumatic emotions requiring professional intervention, entirely to make those people’s anger seem unimportant or irrational.

          • Joe Bloggs 11.1.1.1.1

            newsflash – your anger IS irrational – the unions fucked up and caused this mess.
            Start, middle and end of story.

            Nothing to do with Richard Taylor, et al. No dark conspiracies. Just a few fucked up unionists overblown with their own importance. That’s why the workers rose up against the unions on Labour Day.

            • ianmac 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Actually don’t people have the right in NZ to seek to improve their lot?
              Business Round Table. Employers Federation. Actors Equity. Act Party. Maori Party. Teachers. National Party. Auckland Citizens. My wife. Students. MP’s overseas trips.
              The trouble with you Joe is that by being against everyone, you automatically don’t play fair.

            • QoT 11.1.1.1.1.2

              The unions controlled John Key and forced him to pass [ironically probably ineffectual] anti-worker legislation in order to make a US studio happy? That doesn’t seem logical … OH WAIT, I get it, you’re talking out your ass and really don’t like people pointing out that attacking the Left for being emotional/irrational is a fairly boring tactic at this point.

            • Vicky32 11.1.1.1.1.3

              “That’s why the workers rose up against the unions on Labour Day.”
              To what are you referring? If you mean Sir Richard’s ermployees marching to his order, then that’s not “the workers (rising) up”, that is the workers doing what their boss tells them they must do, to keep their jobs…
              Deb

  12. tea 12

    Perhaps Kate and Gerry could give some of those ‘hand wringing academics’ a call and ask them what a law is and how it works and if it has a money back guarantee.

    surely if this is an example of National’s Standards someone has to call their arrogance and incompetence out and be heard by the general public?

  13. tea 13

    wow reading thread.

    How can questions not be asked when ministers are contradicting the Prime Minister?

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    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    4 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    4 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    5 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    5 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    5 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    6 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    6 days ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    7 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    7 days ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    7 days ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    7 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    1 week ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    1 week ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Leadership Matters – More Than Anything.
    Our Good Fortune: Precisely because she has never been an ideologue (she calls herself a “pragmatic idealist”) Jacinda Ardern has a political nimbleness and spontaneity which, when infused with her exceptional emotional intelligence, produces spectacular demonstrations of leadership. Jacinda's empathic political personality contrasts sharply with the less-than-sunny ways of her ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #11, 2020
    2 weeks ago
  • 68-51
    The Abortion Legislation Bill has just passed its third reading, 68-51. NZ First MPs bailed because their referendum amendment didn't pass, but there were plenty of MPs to provide a majority without them. The bill is a long way from perfect - most significantly, it subjects pregnant people who need ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The ‘herd immunity’ route to fighting coronavirus is unethical and potentially dangerous
    As most of the world tries to suppress the coronavirus spread, some countries are going it alone – trying to manage the pandemic through so-called “herd immunity”. Herd immunity means letting a large number of people catch a disease, and hence develop immunity to it, to stop the virus spreading. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Eight new COVID-19 cases today. It’s no surprise when you look at some numbers
    So, as I sit at home with a very, very slight headache (i.e. not at work when I would otherwise be so), the now familiar figure of Ashley Bloomfield reports eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19  including two in Waikato. A surprise, given that we had just twelve yesterday? No. ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • The WINZ Paradox versus the new COVID-19 Reality: Get real people, seriously…
    Many who advocated for, and voted for, the current Coalition – particularly those who voted Labour and the Green Party – expected to see a sea change in the reality of social services. A real, deep change of attitude, approach of process through which the system negotiates the difficult and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • The Air New Zealand bailout
    Stuff reports that the government is going to have to throw $2 - 3 billion at Air new Zealand to get it through the pandemic. Good. While international routes are basicly closed, Air New Zealand is a strategic asset which is vital to our tourism industry, not to mentioning airfreight. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why NZ’s tough coronavirus travel rules are crucial to protecting lives at home and across the Pac...
    New Zealand’s border restrictions will come with significant job and business losses in the tourism sector, both at home and in the Pacific. But the new travel rules are absolutely necessary to protect the health of New Zealanders and people right across Pacific Islands, because New Zealand is a gateway ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • The tiniest of teeth
    Back in early 2018, as a shoddy legal tactic to try and avoid the prisoner voting ban being formally declared inconsistent with the BORA by the Supreme Court, Justice Minister Andrew Little floated the idea of greater legal protection for human rights. When the Supreme Court case didn't go the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • One simple, common factor to success against COVID-19
    Professor Philip Hill and Associate Professor James Ussher Most infectious diseases have an Achilles heel, the secret is to find it. The question is if we don’t have a drug or a vaccine for COVID-19, is there something else we can do to beat it? Some people estimate that, without ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • National should isolate Simon Bridges
    The Coalition Governments $12.1 billion economic package to help combat the financial effects of COVID-19 was generally well received across the board, even amongst many business leaders who would normally be critical of a Labour led Government.However there was one glaringly obvious exception, Simon Bridges. The so-called leader of the ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
    Four stage Alert System for COVID-19 announced New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus Workplaces to implement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
    Kia ora koutou katoa I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders today to give you as much certainty and clarity as we can as we fight Covid-19. Over the past few weeks, the world has changed. And it has changed very quickly. In February it would have seemed unimaginable to ...
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  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
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  • Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19
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