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New Zealand needs a new Speaker

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, November 11th, 2015 - 85 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Annette King, john key, Judith Collins, Kelvin Davis, national, phil twyford, Politics, same old national - Tags: ,


One of the more unusual customs I have seen in Parliament is that when an MP takes exception at something said to them or about them they can raise this as a point of order and normally get a retraction.  They can dish out the verbal stuff but if one of them stands and claims that they take exception to something that has been said they normally get a retraction.

There are two relevant rules in Parliament’s standing orders.  Rule 119 requires the Speaker to intervene if any offensive or disorderly words are used by a Member of Parliament.  And rule 386 specifically prohibits a Minister when answering a question from using discreditable references to any member of Parliament or any offensive or unparliamentary expression.

I had a quick look through Hansard for the past couple of years to try and find some examples of what happens and found these …

Like this one when Phil Twyford called Jami-Lee Ross a fool and an idiot.

Phil Twyford : You fool. You’re an idiot. No one is saying that.

JAMI-LEE ROSS : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have got a pretty thick skin, but I take exception to that.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch) : Yes, the member—I am referring to the member who made those comments. I will ask the member to withdraw those comments. You cannot refer to another member in that manner.

Phil Twyford : I withdraw.

And this one

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes, this Government did renew the ban put in place by Labour, and what I can also confirm is: firstly, the 2007 Labour Government was aware of the problem; secondly, it was looking to take its own actions; and, thirdly, the Leader of the Opposition has been set up by Annette King and Phil Goff.

Hon Annette King : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take exception to the last part of that answer. On three occasions he has claimed that I set somebody up. I object to that. It is a lie.

Mr SPEAKER : On the basis that the member has taken offence, I am going to ask the Prime Minister to stand and withdraw that part of the answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I withdraw.

And this one featuring Judith Collins where Trevor Mallard was thrown out for implying that Collins’ family had received money from Oravida …

Grant Robertson: How can she say that the only option was to go straight to the airport or to Oravida when the programme for her visit actually had a business and legal round table in the timeslot that was used for her visit to Oravida?

Hon Trevor Mallard: Half a million dollars for the family.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I take exception to that comment. I would like to have it withdrawn, please.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has taken offence to the interjection that came from the Hon Trevor Mallard. Would he stand and withdraw that comment.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We will deal with that afterwards. I have asked the member—

Hon Trevor Mallard: No, I am not going to withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: That puts us in a very difficult position, where I have no choice but to then ask—

Hon Trevor Mallard: It was not an unparliamentary comment.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the member alluded to a substantial amount of money being the benefit to the family. The Minister has taken objection to that, I think, with justification. I will ask the member once more to stand and withdraw that comment. If not—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I will not withdraw the truth. Her—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Hon Trevor Mallard will leave the Chamber.

So you can see that if an MP calls another MP a fool or an idiot, or claims that an MP set someone up, or they made things up or their family received money or says something that upsets them then at their request the offending MP can be forced to withdraw their comment.

But yesterday the rules appeared to change.  John Key claiming that Labour and Kelvin Davis  are “backing the rapists” which is patently not true as well as being completely offensive is somehow acceptable Parliamentary language.

Rob Salmond may be right and Key may have engaged in the Crosby Textor diversionary dead cat tactic.  But the speaker’s job is to try and maintain some sort of order and not let the debating chamber descend into a bar room brawl.

Other speakers have taken the job seriously.  Former speaker Lockwood Smith received accolades from the opposition for insisting that Ministers needed to answer straight questions with a straight answer.  He understood the importance of the Parliamentary process.

I expect that there will be considerable attention on question time this afternoon.  And if we witness the same sort of decision making by the Speaker then who knows what will happen.

And public respect for the political process will deteriorate further.  Maybe this is the plan …

85 comments on “New Zealand needs a new Speaker ”

  1. tc 1

    Thats always been the plan mickey as the more who become turned off suits the tories just fine.

    Labour needs to highlight carters inconsistency and let keys behaviour speak for itself by taking the high ground over what a shambles nact have reduced parliament to.

    Leave the bait alone !

  2. Steve Wrathall 2

    Lab/Greens are backing the detainees. The detainees include rapists. Which of those statements is not true?

    • BM 2.1

      Don’t forget the murderers.

    • Enough is Enough 2.2

      Do rapists or detainees have no human rights?

      • Steve Wrathall 2.2.1

        There is no “human right” of citizens of one country remain in another country after their criminality has forfeited the privilege of residency.

        • Stuart Munro

          Neither is there a right for states to imprison people who have completed the sentences prescribed by the courts.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3

      Key went to Turnbull to back the detainees. Blow harder, Wrathall: your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

      • Daniel Cale 2.3.1

        He went to back the human rights of detainees. There’s a difference.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          What a lovely shiny pinhead. Don’t slip.

          • Daniel Cale

            What shiny pin are the Labour and Greens MP’s spinning on then? They’re claiming to be defending the human rights of detainees, not the detainees themselves. Aren’t they?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Is that how it works? You make a false assertion then ask if it’s true?

    • Are all humans rapists, or are all rapists human?

    • Sabine 2.5

      four are sex offenders as per the comments of the Immigration Minister of OZ – and they may not even be Kiwis. I guess we could argue that the others might not be Kiwis either.

      but that would be details, and surely Dear Leader is above details, he is relaxed and aspirational and inspirational and a successful business man and he likes ponytails.

    • It is not about backing or not backing particular individuals. It is about backing an ethical, legal and political principle that has been widely accepted – human rights.

      What you are implying is that Key completely misunderstood the issue at hand. Do you think he is that unintelligent?

    • Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 2.7

      John Key said ‘Labour backs rapists’. Labour includes all the MPs of that party in parliament -many of whom walked out today. Labour includes thousands of party members. Labour includes hundreds of thousands of voters.

      Steve Wrathall do you really think it is true these people back rapists or did John Key lie?

      A lie that was incredibly offensive and designed to distract people from his inability to answer reasonable questions about human rights. John Key should apologise but he will not because -he is gutless. Kelvin Davis got it right.

      I would like to add that David Carter is a useless Speaker and the whole institution of Speaker of the House needs to be reformed to make the Speaker a position that defends the integrity of Parliament not the political machinations of the PM.

    • Sacha 2.8

      Seems none of the *NZ* detainees are rapists. Sorry to burst your logic-bubble.

      • Daniel Cale 2.8.1

        Labour and the Greens were not only talking about kiwi’s. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    • Tricledrown 2.9

      Not true.

    • Alex Cardy 2.10

      None of the New Zealander’s being held on Christmas Island are murder or rapists, The other parties are backing better treatment for those New Zealanders detained. At no time have any of the paries said anything different. Seriously, you must be a Key/English bluebellied capitalist supporter. Your question… “which of those statements is not true” the answer is simple, both of them are absolute BS

  3. wyndham 3

    Somehow I can’t help thinking that Carter is more incompetent rather than biased. Perhaps that’s a wimpish view of the man but, as a frequent watcher of Question Time, I’ve observed him make many helpful options to questioners, quite often with a smile. Certainly he makes many attempts to stifle the increasingly shrill shouting of Key.
    It is no secret that he didn’t want the job of Speaker but was prevailed upon by the P.M.

    • Sabine 3.1

      The man knows which side his toast is buttered and he knows where the butter comes from. And he is doing precisely as he is told.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      I think he’s incompetent (see: his statements at the beginning of the year regarding Mike Sabin’s resignation from Parliament) and biased.

  4. Clean_power 4

    I wonder if the same call was made when the Speaker was the one-eyed, one-sided, extremely biased Margaret Wilson. Did anyone complain?

    • Sabine 4.1

      according to this article from 2004, the opposition complained the day she got nominated


      National’s shadow leader of the House, Gerry Brownlee, said her selection was “a recipe for chaos in Parliament”.

      “Respect is earned, not granted by appointment,” he said.

      “The Opposition has no confidence in Margaret Wilson’s ability to do the job.”

      Former Act leader Richard Prebble said the choice “fits in with Helen Clark’s gender-promoting strategy”.

      New Zealand First leader Winston Peters confined himself to a complaint that he was not consulted.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      Do what I did CP and cite examples instead of trotting out a right wing meme. How about you actually prove your assertion.

  5. pipalbany 5

    I might point out that Key refers to “Labour’ and not a specific person, or persons. Your examples show clearly where members are picking out other members specifically. Labour Supports Beneficiaries for example is a thing, and (e.g.) Grant Robertson supports Beneficiaries are statements of ‘fact’.

    Whilst I think that Key used language that was at best inflammatory it was a generalised statement about a position that Labour seems to have settled on, or has passion about.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      I think that’s a very weak response.

      It is *Key* that caused offense. It doesn’t matter to which specific individual he caused offense. In this case he caused offense to many individuals – to quote the speaker “with justification”, so that in fact makes it worse.

      Key should have been asked to retract, or thrown out of Parliament if he refused.

      • pipalbany 5.1.1

        I think it’s a great response. the OP was about offence being taken by individuals called out specifically by name and instance. Key did not call out an individual but the party.

        • mickysavage

          So it is worse to abuse an individual rather than a group? How is that?

          • pipalbany

            I didn’t say it was worse or better.

            As you pointed out in your post individuals can ask for a withdrawal if they have personally been called out, and they feel that it is unfair, or they are insulted.

            I don’t see a standing order where someone can’t call out a whole party and claim that supports

            • Lanthanide

              So you’d be happy if all of the Labour MPs stood up and said “National supports euthanasia of children” – it doesn’t matter if any National MPs took offense to that, because they aren’t individuals apparently.

              Your argument is facile, and frankly embarassing.

              • pipalbany

                No I disagree, I’m sure that a Labour MP has called out National or being one thing or another before now, you’re using inflammatory arguments to prove a point that does not need making.

                • Lanthanide

                  “I’m sure that a Labour MP has called out National or being one thing or another before now”

                  And, did any National MPs object and ask for it to be withdrawn?

                  Chop chop, go look through the Hansard. If you can find some examples where Labour said something about the National party in general, a National MP complained *and* the speaker backed the Labour MP up and did not require them to retract their statement, *then* you have a case.

                • mickysavage

                  Nope your argument is really stupid. You are suggesting that insulting a group is not as bad as insulting an individual.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Ah, the old but there was no specific rule about this particular instance of immoral action and thus it was legal POV of the RWNJs.

              • pipalbany

                and there you go, the sanctuary of the nasty part, why not have a crack a name calling?, you are what is wrong with a lot of things

                • Draco T Bastard

                  You were the one being nasty and immoral by trying to excuse the immoral actions of John Key and you did it in a way that is fairly normal for RWNJs – they declare it legal and imply that it’s morality because of that illegality.

                  Now you seem upset that you got called on your BS.

    • Crashcart 5.2

      Except hey specifically singled out Davis as supporting rapists as well. So yea he covered his bases by offending an individual and the party.

      • alwyn 5.2.1

        If you want to justify the complaint because he singled out Davis it would have to be Davis who complained.
        I don’t think the rule would allow you to complain on the grounds that
        “Although my colleague, sitting over there, isn’t saying anything I am sure he is really upset and I am complaining on his behalf because he is too modest to draw attention to himself”.
        Don’t think that would work somehow.

        • crashcart

          That may be so. I am pretty sure the comment I replied to said that key didn’t single out anyone when he quite clearly did.

          • alwyn

            In that you are quite right. It was pretty clearly aimed at Davis to start with.
            There is one problem left of course. The somewhat arcane rules of Parliament require, I believe, an immediate objection, and they really mean immediate.
            The only person in the Labour Party to react immediately, as it seemed from the video, was Annette King. All the others seemed to go on as if nothing had happened with Little asking a few more supplementary questions.
            By the time Robertson had woken up and started complaining it was about 5 minutes later.
            It sounds silly but I think that is the way the rules work. God knows why and I think he steers well clear of the place.
            ps I may be wrong with the immediate bit. Someone more knowledgeable may be able to confirm or deny it.
            From what happened outside the Chamber I can see why Key was irate about Davis but the accusation was still way over the top.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.3

      “If those members want to protect sex offenders, rapists, and murderers, go ahead.”

      That rotten low-life, the Right Honourable John Key, Prime Minister, responding to a question from Marama Davidson. At no point during this answer did he mention “Labour”.

      (source: Hansard.)

      Metiria Turei did well on Morning Report today, bringing both issues to the debate – human rights and Key’s revolting behaviour.

      Carter is a disgrace.

  6. pipalbany 6

    David Carter now used threat and bluster to contain any semblance of control. Hacking from both sides is increasing, unabated, and it is a weak leader who used the continued threat of explosion from the house as the only tool to retain control, which is a mile away from respect.

    • Grant 6.1

      Threat of explosion from the house.
      Hmmm, maybe Guy Fawkes was on to something..

      • pipalbany 6.1.1

        🙂 ah auto spell is fabulous, with of course “Heckling” and not “Hacking” because we know that’s bad, and “Explusion” and not “Explosion”

        Seems even with that, that Carter is less in control than Auto spelling.

  7. Daniel Cale 7

    The thing I can’t get about Carter is that he is so inconsistent. I used to think I had a reasonable grasp of Standing Orders etc but Carter continues to bemuse me with his rulings. Time for a non-partisan speaker?

  8. CnrJoe 8

    Carter has lost control of the house – anything less and all the way up “they’re supporting rapists and child molesterers…” is allowable.

  9. weka 9

    Why do we have a partisan Speaker anyway? Wouldn’t it be better to have a neutral person?

    • McFlock 9.1

      I’m not sure such a thing exists.

      But I reckon there should be a quick (<1 week) process for challenging a speaker's ruling, and some mechanism by which a speaker is fired if their rulings are grossly incompetent/partisan.

    • AmaKiwi 9.2

      @ weka

      + 1

      The speaker could be a judge who is not an MP. To reduce the danger of too much political bias, I propose the Judge/Speaker must be elected by 75% of the MPs.

      The absurdity of having a debate in which one side picks the debate’s moderator!

      I forgot. Parliament has always makes its own rules so fairness, common sense, and natural justice are irrelevant.

  10. roy cartland 10

    Some worthy opposition member should take one for the team and directly inform the Speaker that he himself has backed a sex offender (the tail-tugging PM). They oughtn’t get thrown out for that, as that language as been deemed acceptable in his House.

  11. pipalbany 11

    Speaker Carter: “While the interchange between members was a robust one, there was moment when the PM made an unparliamentary remark”

    I’m now sitting on the naughty chair, a comment was considered to have crossed the line of being acceptable.

    It seems fair that the Speaker has attempted to close this out.

  12. Another walkout, plus several MP’s being thrown out by the speaker. Carter’s losing it.

  13. riffer 13

    So… what’s the record for the highest number of MPs being kicked out/leaving before Question Time has even started?

  14. Macro 14

    But of course Carter see no offence given in supporting murderers and rapists. He does it all the time!

    Speaker David Carter says the visit is an excellent first step in restoring the relationship between the two parliaments and shows New Zealand is committed to supporting parliamentary democracy in Fiji and the wider Pacific.

    “After a protracted period without a parliament, Fiji can expect our full support and assistance to make its return to parliamentary democracy a smooth and successful one,” Mr Carter said.

    And yet…
    So who is it that restored diplomatic relations with a country that encourages the murder and rape of its citizens by the Police and Military??

  15. David Carter is an absolute disgrace. Video from today’s QT here:

    From about 10 minutes in he starts throwing out women MPs who dare to say “As a survivor of sexual violence …” while making a point of order.

    • weka 15.1

      Incredible action by the opposition women MPs (and great to see them working together).

      • Ffloyd 15.1.1

        @weka. I was so proud of those women and supporters who made a dignified and powerful statement against Carter and Key who are the lowest of the low.

        When these women stood up and asked for an apology or withdrawal of Key’s shocking accusations I was excited to see this, because hopefully this is the beginning of a fightback against Key and his misguided minions.

        Kia Kaha to those women who shared their sad secrets to show the depth of their hurt at Key’s despicable accusations. Doing that would be the hardest thing.
        They have my utmost admiration.

        I hope some of the women of the National Party might feel some solidarity with these heroines, but I sincerely doubt it.

        • weka

          I’m also very proud of them Floyd. Both the courage to speak so personally, and to see Labour and GP MPs being activists together was incredible. There’s some video in Daily Review of 3 of the MPs speaking afterwards which is also worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

          “I hope some of the women of the National Party might feel some solidarity with these heroines, but I sincerely doubt it.”

          Hard to say because they work in a system that would punish them if they spoke out or indicated solidarity.

          Not sure the Mp MPs have that excuse. I think it’s a very individual thing for women to disclose publicly and I don’t think any woman should be pressured to do so. Any of the women MPs could have stood and said that they supported survivors of sexual assualt, were offended and wanted the PM to apologise (I think one of the opposition MPs did this).

      • Sans Cle 15.1.2

        I’m proud to have such strong opposition women in the house…..speaking out for all women, girls (and boys) who are the victims of abuse.
        I’m ashamed to have John Key representing our country still – a man who saw no wrong in continually abusing a waitress, even when his wife admonished him and pointed out that the lady in question was saying “No” to him.
        Clearly our PM does not have a grasp that when someone says ‘NO’, to invasion of their personal space, he is not entitled to continue his behaviour to satisfy whatever his fetish is, or whatever he feels entitled to do.

    • Mike the Savage One 15.2

      I agree, Carter’s at times very flawed sense of “justice” and “fairness” is unacceptable, and what has happened yesterday and today is ample evidence, he is not fit for the job as Speaker. We must realise though, he never wanted the job, Key and other leading Nats pushed him to accept it, more or less, as they considered him convenient for their purpose.

      So I have seen Carter with shaking hands and fumbling his pen many times, he is struggling to maintain composure rather often, when under pressure, and whenever things get too much for him, then he tends to be even more lenient towards his party’s side of the argument, than to the opposition.

      I have never seen such bizarre conduct in the House as the last two days, and it shows now, how unacceptable, and offensive a PM we have, a two faced one, with a rather dark side to his character, and he tries all the time, to exploit the leniency of the Speaker, knowing he has a soft sport for his political mates in his party.

      It is time to put up a serious challenge, that is all the opposition parties, and perhaps Maori Party and Peter Dunne may finally see the light also, so that there is a serious challenge put, to have the Speaker replaced, whatever that may take.

      It cannot go on as it has today, and James Shaw put that very well in his speech during the debate. Time to go, Mr Carter, time to resign also from politics and Parliament, I reckon, as you had a good enough a run. We are in constitutional trouble territory now, that is what I take from the sitting of Parliament today.

  16. Jenny Kirk 16

    Be careful Mickey, you might find yourself hauled up before the Privileges Committee for criticising the Speaker in public !!

    • Mike the Savage One 16.1

      I would be happy to join Micky and others, what a privilege to be heard.

    • AmaKiwi 16.2

      @ Jenny Kirk

      Is that legal? Is it true that as a private citizen I cannot criticize the the Speaker?

      If you are the Jenny Kirk who was a Labour MP from the North Shore, I’ll trust your reply to be legally accurate.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.3

      The Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament, the Right Honorable David Carter, is a disgrace to his position, an incompetent biased hack who stains the office he holds.

      Even his crass blundering is eclipsed by the disgusting antics of the PM.

      Is that the sort of thing you mean Jenny? 😈

  17. dv 17

    Interestingly Carter said he didn’t hear Key (properly) as Carter was on his feet trying to get order.
    Members a suppose to shut up when the speaker is on his feet.

    Guess who didn’t shut up.

    • ScottGN 17.1

      He never hears anything inconvenient.

    • Mike the Savage One 17.2

      In my humble view he was telling BS, it was a convenient excuse. The fallout that came after it all, and the media attention, that must have given Mr Carter some reason to rethink.

      Key was dominating the answering, was clear as can be, and could not have been overheard at all at any time. Selective blindness and selective deafness are rather common attributes.

  18. Stuart Munro 18

    Ultimately, Carter and Key have decided that the conventions of parliamentary process are less important to them than their convenience. This democracy stuff is such a nuisance to them. They are much like selfish children who want to be exceptions to every rule. Sub-human vermin like this lead our country? Hard to believe our expectations could sink so low. And a pretty good argument for a generous application of 1080.

    • Mike the Savage One 18.1

      In my view this is close to the most perfect dictatorship you could have, that we have in NZ, it is so perfected, that most do not even see it as such. And that is the trouble, as the dumbed down, lied to and manipulated are en masse taking on the Stockholm Syndrome, and willingly and blissfully accept this condition as being the ultimate expression of truth.

  19. oneslave 19

    Murderers….? Wasnt one of them a war hero , part of the people he sent to fight for American interests. Is that whom he is talking about…?

  20. mia 20

    The Speaker is a twat. He needs to bevstood down with John Key. Bias prick.

    • Tracey 20.1

      He is certainly making Margaret Wilson look like she was impartial.

      I had VERY high hopes for Ms Wilson when she was made speaker and was thoroughly disappointed. I doubted Mr Smith on his appointment and thought he would be a stooge. Wrong on both counts.

      It is very easy to see why Smith had to go, from a National point of view.

      It would be good to hear some noise from the MP and UF and then some action.

      I wonder if a call can be made for a confidence vote on the Speaker? BUT anyone doing it MUST have the numbers first

      • tinfoilhat 20.1.1

        Since the broadcasting of parliament on TV, Lockwood Smith has been the exception in terms of being an excellent Speaker of the house and mostly unbiased in his rulings.

  21. Sacha 21

    Ropbertson snookered the hapless Carter by using the same phrasing today that the Speaker ruled was OK when Key used it, and having it ruled unparliamentary. What a tired old fool.

  22. David Carter is preparing seriously for his next job.

    The problem will be deciding his specialist position. His running defence for Ministers could a mean a dilemma. Defensive tackle, defensive end or linebacker?

  23. Andrew Hooper 23

    FYI: The category Key seems to have used or Rapists is not correct. They are Sex Offenders and remember there is no grey when it comes to the law but there is in the real world.

    A Sex Offender could be someone who committed Statutory Rape and although the intercorse may have been consensual at the time the law is the law and unless you have or can afford a really good lawyer you are going down as a sex offender.

    Don’t get me wrong I hate sex offenders with a passion but also have seen many instances where the law and justice has not prevailed and people have been incarcerated for a crime that should not have really been taken to court in the first place. The person just pissed off the wrong people.

    There have been instances where people have been convicted of having non consensual intercourse with others and alcohol was involved impairing both parties viewpoints of the situation and the offender has been truly remorseful.

    Also remember that these people have been sentenced and served there time, paid the price for their actions.

    Now the Murdered, there are a few definitions for this in the law and falling under this banner is involuntary manslaughter as well as a few others. If you have a car accident and kill someone or run a pedestrian over you can be tried under a category of murder. In my younger days I had a good friend who on a dark night hit a lady in his car and killed her, she was wearing black but he was sentenced to imprisonment. The comment then was She is dead, You are not and someone has be be held accountable. So yes we could have all called him a murderer and the charges indicate he was but it was not intentional and he was remorseful.

    There have been instances over here where an employer was convicted of murder related charges and sent to prison because they did not provide and ensure an employee had the required safety equipment and died in an accident,

    So before we jump up and say, You fall in to the category of Rapist and Murderer best we look at the facts.

  24. starboard 24

    Yes I remember an impartial SOTH..Margaret Wilson…lol

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  • More women on public boards than ever before
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  • Awards support Pacific women
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  • Speech to the China Business Summit
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  • Phil Twyford to attend Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting
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