Has National changed its policy on the super-city?

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, April 21st, 2009 - 23 comments
Categories: act, auckland supercity, democracy under attack, democratic participation, maori party, national - Tags:

democracy-under-attack1Yesterday I pointed out that the Local Government Act requires referenda on boundary changes such as are envisaged for Auckland. To not do so would be to use the parliamentary rights to amend legislation to remove a required consultation with the citizens of Auckland. It appears likely (from Graeme) that NACT will put forward a new bill to enable the changes, thereby by-passing the Local Government Act.

That leaves and interesting question about National. It turns out that National policy before the election was to let Aucklanders have their say on any proposal to change our city. They said in their policy on local government

National will:

  • Support the Royal Commission providing an opportunity for people within the Auckland region to express their views about the structures that will best achieve the goals set out above.
  • Consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the Royal Commission are known.
  • Implement changes that will best achieve the goals of good regional infrastructure, sound and consistent regulation, and economic growth throughout the region, as well as making
    sure each community in our biggest city feels appropriately represented
    .

I’ve emphasised in italics the interesting bits. It appears that their coalition partner Act, in their haste to get the super-city implemented before 2010, is going to prevent any significant ‘consultation’. The Local Government Act sets the standard of a referendum as appropiate consultation.

It is difficult to see how National can consult with Aucklanders if they don’t get Rodney to leave time for a referendum.

Moveover, it is hard to see how local boards are going to be able appropiately represent communities. They may get people on those boards, but Rodney Hide is proposing that the boards are effectively powerless to change the use of resources without the super-city council’s approval. People elected to those boards will be able to ‘input’ but be unable to change anything.

Of course the National Party would probably argue that communities can band together to secure one of the eight at-large seats, as John Key has suggested that Maori do. The problem with that is the level of resources that will be required to run a city-wide campaign and the clear effect that such a campaign will favour groups with a lot of money – leading to excessive venal politics. Hardly likely to favour local communities or even the wider ones apart from the business interests who support both Act and National.

So the question is, are National covertly changing their policy to one of non-consultation and inadequete community representation to keep one coalition partner happy?

They certainly didn’t keep the Maori Party happy.

23 comments on “Has National changed its policy on the super-city?”

  1. bobo 1

    What actual power will community boards have? Cake Stalls and Dog Licenses? Why would anyone bother voting for candidates with no actual power of local body resources. On another note it seems privatizing the airforce/ army bases are back on the table too.. Maybe start with privatizing the Skyhawks or is the US still blocking any private sale?

  2. BLiP 2

    Like a cheap imported onion, layer after layer is being peeled back from the National Party to eventually expose its rotten core.

  3. Kevin Welsh 3

    “The problem with that is the level of resources that will be required to run a city-wide campaign and the clear effect that such a campaign will favour groups with a lot of money”

    Which, I guess, falls in line with the ideology of those on the right where those with the most, get to call the shots.

  4. There is also an argument that the Government changes to the Royal Commission’s report conflict with the terms of reference that the Royal Commission operated under.

    The Royal Commission’s terms of reference required it to come up with a solution that was “consistent with the purposes and principles of local government as described in the Local Government Act 2002”.

    When you read the purposes and principles they talk about “effective local government”, promoting “the accountability of local authorities to their communities’, providing “for local authorities to play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities, taking a sustainable development approach.’ The purpose is “to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and … to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.’

    Under section 14 when making a decision a Local Authority must make itself aware of, and should have regard to, the views of all of its communities, and it should take account of the diversity of the community, and the community’s interests, within its district or region. A local authority should also provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to its decision-making processes.

    Arguably the Nats are in breach of most if not all of these requirements.

    • Graeme 4.1

      None of this really matters:

      1. The current National government is not a Royal Commission.
      2. The current National government is not a local authority.

      The obligations on local authorities that you list will all apply to whatever final form the new Auckland council takes. If it doesn’t “have regard to, the views of all of its communities, and it should take account of the diversity of the community, and the community’s interests, within its district or region. A local authority should also provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to its decision-making processes.” then its decisions will be open to challenge whenever it makes them.

      • mickysavage 4.1.1

        I agree Graeme that it does not matter:

        1. If the National Government is not committed to the principles of the LGA
        2. If the National Government accept that their amended proposal is based on a less democratic and representative model than the model the Royal Commission was asked to come up with.

        Legally you are right. The provisions of the LGA are not biding on Key and Co. If there is an expectation however that they should live up to what are good principles then they have failed.

        I should not have said “requirements”, I should have said “legitimate expectations”.

      • lprent 4.1.2

        However the NACT government still has to justify its decision not to have a referendum to the voters, it is the standard practice. So why do they wish to ignore that – perhaps the reasons would be embarassing? To have a bloody Rugby World Cup? To allow John Banks to have V8 racing in the streets?

        To date they haven’t even made a case for why they want to get it done before 2010. They haven’t made a case for any of it…

  5. Nick 5

    Graeme is spot on. None of this really matters.

    But I note a real expert on local government, a law professor, has said today that:

    “The Government’s decisions on Auckland governance – “Making Auckland Greater” – are bold, decisive, and overall radical.

    Finally we have a workable prescription for Auckland to speak with one voice and act boldly in the regional and national interest. The Government has moved swiftly on this issue, possibly inspired by the urgency of the global financial crisis. One can speculate whether the previous Government would have done likewise.”

    See here.

    • Nick this was Kenneth Palmer.

      Most planning lawyers go into private practice and earn huge amounts of money. The occasional one stays lecturing …

      They bring Kenny out occasionally to support various conservative views. He is the sort of guy who still wears roman sandals and socks.

      Janet Clews’ comments, also in today’s Herald were far more astute. To paraphrase she thinks that the changes are a load of croc. She has been in Local Government for decades and she is not standing again. But she despairs because local people are going to lose quality representation.

    • lprent 5.2

      Amazing, we have a supporter. However I cannot see any argument by him on the net discussing why he thinks things like:-
      The voice of the communities will still be heard through the local board structures and ward members, striking an appropriate balance between unified representation and local democracy.

      In other words the boards are powerless to be anything more than a institutional lobby group, without significant funding or any way to raise it. They are ineffectual – perhaps he could explain why he thinks this is a good idea?.

      Did you also notice that he’d said that the government threw away all of the ideas from the Royal Commission?
      Although innovative in promoting the Super City concept, the report’s overall thrust was incremental, basically retaining the existing territorial governance level.
      The Government’s decision on Auckland Governance provide a far more radical blueprint.

      I see that he doesn’t like the idea of a referendum. Of course he doesn’t deign to say exactly why. He contented that the reform was in line with the Local Government Act, but doesn’t explain why he’d prefer that the referendum provision that is such a key part of it is ignored.

  6. That’s unbridled power for you. Now you know how the Electoral Finance Bill felt.

  7. peteremcc 7

    I believe it’s called a Select Committee.

  8. Nick C 8

    Its interesting that you are using the ‘democracy under attack’ label for all your posts on the super city proposal now. No doubt an attempt to emulate the successful campaign against the electoral finance act. Its worth discussing clear differences between the two:

    1) The process under which the EFB was run was a farce. Witnesses at select committee (which was ineptly chaired) were told to ‘go and join the exclusive bretheran’. The Human Rights Commission were nearly prevented from appearing, and when they did appear their submission was completely ignored, as was the submission of the Law Society. Labour rammed in last minute ammendments at multiple stages of the bills processes, sometimes in their hundreds. The implications on the Bill of Rights were completely ignored. In addition Labour simply didnt know what it was doing. Mark Burton was sacked as Minister of Justice half way through the Bills process because he had no idea what he was doing.

    The Super City process has so far been relativly good. The Select Committee as Peter points out is working and Public Submissions are being heard. We will have to wait and see which recommendations are adopted, so too early to judge on that one.

    2) The EFB was not only undemocratic in process it was poorly written and undemocratic in nature. The head of the electoral commission couldnt even understand and interprete the Bill, which is quite funny given that it war her job to. The contents of the Bill essentially limited the ability of 3rd parties to participate in the election campaign, although i wont go into that, its well known.

    The super city does no such thing. People still get to vote for their councilers, its just that local government is smaller. And while is unclear what the purpose of the community boards will be at the moment they seem to be a way to provide representation.

    [a select committee is meant to be an acceptable replacement for a referendum? Get real]

    • lprent 8.1

      The democracy under attack banner is largely aimed at the NZ Herald who used it as a logo on the anti-EFA stuff. They haven’t so far bothered to do more on the super-city than a few limp editorials – despite it being a radical change to the local politics in their city. It is a change that had a process through the royal commission. Whose findings were almost entirely dumped by Rodney Hide – they left the Mayor and the single rating system.

      The Super City process has so far been relativly good. The Select Committee as Peter points out is working..

      The select committee hasn’t even started, we haven’t seen a bill yet. And you think that it is good. You must be either an idiot or someone who doesn’t understand much about parliamentary or electoral processes. That probably explains your ideas on the EFA process.

      Besides the standard for changes in governance boundaries and voting systems is referendum. It was what brought in MMP. It has been used in every local government change since 1990 (and some before).

      Act and National need to justify why they feel the need to override the usual democratic process of a referendum for one that involves Rodney making up ideas on the fly (2 weeks) without consultation and then pushing it through parliament. As you point out, the select committee process can be flawed, which is why referendum are the preferred authorizing process for this type of change.

      Perhaps you should study up on the legl process of government a bit. Comments like the one above just make you look like a fool.

      • Graeme 8.1.1

        It has been used in every local government change since 1990 (and some before).

        Exactly. That isn’t all that long ago. And the massive change that happened without referenda before then belies any argument that it is the natural process.

        Bassett and Elwood succeeded where their predecessors failed in rationalizing the structure of local government so that from 1989
        · the number of regional councils was reduced from twenty-two to thirteen with provision being made for the direct election of these bodies;
        · the number of city and district councils (designated “territorial authorities’) was reduced from 200 to seventy-four; and
        · the number of ad hoc or special purpose bodies was reduced from over 400 to seven.

        ref:http://www.une.edu.au/economics/publications/ECONwp00-7.PDF

        A major rationale behind the statutorily-provided referendum process is that these are (proposed) amalgamations that avoid parliamentary and select committee scrutiny. They don’t have Royal Commissions, and they don’t really have much government involvement at all. etc.

        We had a referendum on a retirement savings scheme in 1997, where was the outcry about the lack of democracy when the Cullen Fund and Kiwisaver were started?

        We used to have lots of referenda about liquor licensing. The abolition of the six o’clock swill happened following a referendum, why didn’t the drinking age get a referendum?

    • Graeme 8.2

      It was argued that a select committee process was enough for major constitutional change such as the creation of the Supreme Court, and major change in the lives of New Zealanders, such as the amendment of section 59 … why isn’t it enough here?

      Now I think there there should be a referendum, but to argue that this is anomalous just isn’t accurate. There weren’t referendums following the last re-organisation of local government – and there were mergers and dissolutions all over the country.

  9. Malcolm 9

    The normal process is a referendum. You should be ashamed of yourself, Graeme, as someone who supposedly stands for open government, for trying to make excuses for not having a referendum. You say you would support a referendum but you speak against it at every oppportunity.

    The question should not be ‘why have a referendum?’ it should be ‘why not?’ Sure, in a total national reorganisation of all local government, it is understandable that you wouldn’t have 700+ referendums but this is just a merger and you’ve provided no reason why Aucklanders shouldn’t get a referendum like the people of Banks Peninsula, Christchurch Napier, and Hastings had.

    Face it Graeme, you’re just trying to make excuses for the Nats and ACT. You’re not standing up for democracy when you have the chance.

    • Graeme 9.1

      I support there being a referendum.

      I am not speaking against a referendum at every opportunity. I am speaking against many of the arguments that have been advanced as to why there should be a referendum. The arguments aren’t very good. I am speaking against some arguments that seem ignorant of history, etc.

      A good argument goes like this: this a major change in the democratic structures that govern the live of Aucklanders. They should have the final say over what democratic structures govern their lives and their city. A referendum is a must.

      Arguments that the government is violating the terms of the Royal Commission, or is going against a process that is set up to occur in situations where there is no parliamentary input, and the reorganisation is proposed by a petition of residents do not add to this, they detract.

    • Maynard J 9.2

      Agreed Malcolm. Comparing this to the liberalisation of drinking laws, when there’s a specific Act that calls for a referendum in this very situation that NACT are consciously bypassing is a pretty weak comparison – weasel words.

      Unless there was an Act that calls for a referendum on drinking laws that the recent changes deliberately bypassed, it would appear you’re being an apologist for NACT, Graeme, despite protestations to the contrary.

      • Graeme 9.2.1

        there’s a specific Act that calls for a referendum in this very situation

        No. There really isn’t.

        Thus, my point.

        • Maynard J 9.2.1.1

          “this very situation”

          So the situation is different because there is parliamentary involvement.

          But this detracts from the argument for a referendum? If you’re taking a very narrow viewpoint, then I could see why you’d make that argument, but fail to see why you think it would apply to the real world.

          If every newspaper ran with this, saying that there is legislation that calls for a referendum, in certain circumstances, you can bet John Key would be on Breakfast at 7:54 am on Friday saying that “we’ll look into it, it’s definitely something we’re considreing, I can’t rule it out”. Sure, Bill English or someone else might say that he’s wrong two weeks later, but as far as detracting from calls for a referendum – nope.

          Perhaps you could provide a legal reason for your presented ‘good argument’ above instead of shooting down those who are trying…

          • Graeme 9.2.1.1.1

            That’s the problem. There isn’t a legal reason. There is a moral and democratic reason.

          • Maynard J 9.2.1.1.2

            So explaining that there is a legal reason, in some circumstances, detracts from calls for a referendum by…?

            Ain’t nothing wrong with saying “hey, in some circumstances there needs to be a referendum – surely there should be one here too”.

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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