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Oh dear – National’s “white elephant” is still growing?

Written By: - Date published: 4:56 pm, November 23rd, 2014 - 44 comments
Categories: national, public transport, same old national, transport - Tags: , ,

There is one thing that you can say about the National party and their media sycophants is that they are routinely wrong about Auckland city.  Auckland really can’t go wrong by simply implementing whatever plan they are currently railing against. For instance this classically wrong cartoon accurately expresses the opinions being put forward in NZ Herald pieces  in the early to late 2000’s.

Back in 2007 when the Northern busway was being put in, they were portraying it as being a white elephant. But the traffic figures at the Transport Blog make it perfectly clear that was simple stupidity.

What actually happened? Although the busway was constructed late, it worked like crazy. By 2012, actual patronage on the busway was almost double what the patronage forecasts indicated:

Northern busway figures projected vs actual as at November 2012.

Needless to say, the pundits in the article have been proven to be completely and utterly wrong. Most were advocating for more roads based on projection of increased car traffic. But the trend both here and internationally isn’t that way. It is towards public transport…

The most recent Census data shows that road traffic is growing at an anemic pace while all other modes are booming:

So despite large sections of very expensive motorway and other roading changes in Auckland being opened up since 2006, it has resulted in a negligible increase in that being people’s preferred mode of commuting transport. The relatively few and much cheaper to implement alternatives in public transport are filled to near capacity a few years after they become available.

But it goes wider than that. The changes that were in the Auckland public transport plan after the National government got tossed from office in 1999 have all been late invariably due to a lack of early funding.

  • The key projects that have been undertaken, such as the Northern Busway and rail electrification, have often been finished far behind schedule. Rail electrification was supposed to be done in 2011, for crying out loud!

  • The successful Northern Busway hasn’t been followed with investment in other essential rapid transit projects, such as the (planned but not yet built) AMETI busway to the eastern suburbs and the Northwestern Busway on SH16.

  • Successive governments have spent billions on Auckland’s motorway network even after it became apparent that demand was flatlining.

From another Transport blog post, it is clear that this shows no signs of diminishing in 2014. The rapid transit network including the Northern busway and the rail network is showing increases in trips of between 13% and 25% across all modes, with an average patronage increase of 16.7%. The Northern busway alone without any significiant increases in services has increased by 12.4%. Even the feeder buses in the throes of changes on various routes show a 6.4% increase.

Auckland Transport patronage breakdown October 2014. Click for a larger image.

The overall increase YTD is 7.7% which is a phenomenal shift in traffic towards public transport.

But hey, this kind of thing doesn’t appear to impact on the short-term thinking of our short-sighted and outright stupid National government. Here is a press release by Simon Bridges, the idiot transport minister from Tauranga, on Auckland’s transport needs.

Auckland Council are welcome to have a debate about future transport infrastructure investment plans, but the Government remains sceptical about the options being presented, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today in response to the release of ‘Funding Auckland’s Transport Future’, a report commissioned by the Auckland Council.

“This is why the National-led Government is spending more than ever before to help build the city’s transport network; around a billion dollars a year. These include very large projects like the Waterview Connection, the widening of the North Western Motorway, the electrification of commuter rail, and the acceleration of motorway projects on the Northern and Southern Corridors.

From memory, weren’t almost all of those public transport projects started and funded by the last Labour government? For that matter so were most of the roading white elephants.

“Aucklanders would need a very clear sense of what results they are getting and whether the new projects would deliver tangible value for money for commuters.  They also need to have the discussion about how much more Aucklanders are prepared to pay for their transport.”

This is from the government who in 2009 arbitrarily removed the painfully negotiated regional fuel tax that was meant to allow Aucklanders to pay for their local transport projects without having to go cap in hand to the dithering idiots in Wellington.

Aucklanders are overwhelmingly voting with their AT Hop cards. They don’t get on the motorways to try to find a park close to work. Where it is available they are getting on bus or train because you can read on the commute. The glare of the LCD screens in endemic on all public transport in Auckland these days as people catch up on news feeds, email and books on the way to work.

Helping to extend motorways further is pretty pointless. The congestion figures on the motorways and the bridges is reducing because people use the public transport whenever it is available. Even the current public transport projects in the pipeline are going to continue to reduce road congestion.

And after all, who really wants to have a hour long commute each way to live in some greenfield site at the back or beyond in the manner that appears to be National’s prefered development plan. The flood of people and the massive rises in house prices are in the areas that people want to live. That isn’t at the ends of the motorways. It is in a ever growing circle within 5-15 kms in the now “inner” suburbs of Auckland like Mt Roskill or Glenfield. The places characterised by relatively short commutes on public transport to transport hubs and work.

Building on greenfield sites out past Henderson-Massey or in South Auckland at 20-40km range is completely useless when the costs of putting the roads, public transport systems, and much of the long run infrastructure falls so heavily on taxpayers and ratepayers.

In effect it amounts to a subsidy that the National government is forcing on taxpayers and ratepayers to pay for greenfield developers and their affluent (because who else can pay for the long car commutes?) customers and a boon for their donating buddies in the car and roading industries.

44 comments on “Oh dear – National’s “white elephant” is still growing?”

  1. Sacha 1

    Even the government’s transport experts are beginning to acknowledge reality, unlike a succession of Ministers:
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2014/11/21/mot-acknowledge-changing-trends-and-future-funding-issues/

    It makes no sense at all to invest so much right now in the wrong transport infrastructure for the next century, as if it were the last one. V8 fantasies from 1960s boys who never grew up.

    Especially when separated public transit like Auckland’s Northern busway has shown its value so easily – about half the people crossing the Harbour Bridge in the morning peak are now on buses, freeing up road space for the remaining cars, taxis and delivery trucks.

    Adding the long-delayed core rail link to the picture will vastly increase traffic on all the region’s lines – to a train every 5 minutes during peak times, and 10 minutes at others.

    People will still drive, sure – but they’ll have other options. Thought the right-wingers were all about choice?

    • lprent 1.1

      People will still drive, sure – but they’ll have other options. Thought the right-wingers were all about choice?

      That is what they say. But apparently not when it comes to handing out lucrative contracts to grateful crony capitalist friends.

      I simply can’t see any other rationale for wanting to build out almost all new housing in the boondocks.

      The crazy thing about it in Auckland at present is that the only housing that commands a premium in rentals, outside the CBD student hutches, over the cost of capital is in larger apartments (>= 50 sq m) and semi detached housing. It is a pretty clear market signal about what people *want* to move into.

      National appears to have largely ignored it. Probably too burnt from their monumentally stupid decision to deregulate the building regulations in the 1990’s that caused such a large issue with leaky buildings a decade later.

      But everything that I have seen indicates that National still thinks in terms of building 3 bedroom houses in the back of beyond. They are what was designed for a specific type of ‘family’, two parents and two or three kids. But that is a rather unusual type of family in Auckland these days

      We have an ample stock of houses of that type in Auckland (3 bedroom standalones on a section). The reason we are still having issues is that we are stuffing all of the families outside that form factor into 3 bedroom houses because there is a massive shortage of everything else. They are inefficient users of land and largely a waste of time for DINKies or empty nesters or even solo parents.

      For people in their first decade(s) of work, most don’t have kids these days until they are close to 30 or above. There is a pretty large shortage of the inner suburb apartments (with parking for weekend cars and public transport for the commute) that they want.

      Similarly those people who have had kids, or like me and Lyn have had none at all, and who don’t need or want a 3 bedroom house. How in the hell would we ever have time to maintain it.

      At most we’d like a 2 bedroom apartment at about 75 sq m with no internal stairs – something that is almost impossible to find in Auckland outside of the luxury apartments in Parnell or downtown.

      It is the mixture of housing that is wrong in Auckland as well as the public transport systems.

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        I’m saddened by the lazy rentier-capitalism tendency here. It does not bode well for New Zealand.

        It is far easier for property developers to stick to sprawling single level dwellings and get the Council to pay for most of the infrastructure, with a token ‘development contribution’ to add a park or two and maybe a local library. Who cares if another big motorway, business park or sewage plant is needed, right?

        Naturally, our current government is outraged by that unreasonable imposition on the freedom of capitalism and they will put an end to it shortly, along with other features of the Resource Management Act that reigned in the worst of our incompetent business sector.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      Thought the right-wingers were all about choice?

      Don’t be silly. The political-right are about giving the illusion of choice while actually preventing anyone from having a choice and that lack of choice will result in higher profits for the private sector. As lprent says in the article:

      In effect it amounts to a subsidy that the National government is forcing on taxpayers and ratepayers to pay for greenfield developers and their affluent (because who else can pay for the long car commutes?) customers and a boon for their donating buddies in the car and roading industries.

      National, as they’ve shown time and time again, will always find a way to subsidise the rich from everyone else’s taxes.

  2. srylands 2

    It would be very sad it PT patronage wasn’t growing given the amount that has been spent on it.

    But as the NZIER made clear last week, the future is in private cars, and ride sharing. Investment in Auckland rail is not smart.

    Over the next 30 years there will be more cars, and people will live ever further from their work places – i.e longer commutes – mostly by road.

    You should read the report if you have not already done so.

    http://tinyurl.com/pdne9t9

    • Sacha 2.1

      Way more has been spent supporting non-public transport modes over many decades, and more to come as governments like this one prioritise sprawl that we all get to pay for. But don’t let that disturb your ideological fantasies about ‘freedom’ and self-driving cars, etc.

    • lprent 2.2

      NZIER pretty much produce what they are paid for. In this case who did pay for it? The roading lobby probably by the look of it.

      The idiots who wrote that report are basing most of it on the type of technology that hasn’t been even remotely taken to implementation phase. If you hunt around you can find virtually the same kind of reports from the 1960s predicting much the same kinds of things by the 1990s.

      Unlike you (clearly you don’t write code or work as an engineer), I actually work on technology that does this kind of stuff. Just not for cars. I think that from what I know of the current state of robotised technology (which is what this is), we are about 20 years away from proving it for the type of wide scale release required for driverless cars.

      FFS I have been watching Auckland coop taxi’s introduction and development of their dispatch technology for their taxis for more than 20 years. I’d have to say that is a sobering experience for a techhead like me. They have a web and app hooked to the GPS in the cars and it sometimes works. But trying to book a taxi in central Auckland at rush hour is often a horrendous experience. And each tech update causes massive resistance from those who have to purchase them.

      Technologies like this take many decades to implement and they seldom work if there are existing incremental alternatives available.

      For instance where in the hell are these things meant to park and recharge after the rush hours? The authors of this fluff piece expect that somehow the existing parking will handle it. FFS Parking is at a premium in all locations that people are meant to go to with the cars at present, and there is no spare space to fill between parked cars now. So who is going to pay for the parking buildings?

      Has anyone figured up how much the grid would have to be increased in urban areas to just handle the charge costs during the day.

      The nett effect is that there will have to be an immense capital injection to put in the infrastructure

      However, if we assume that it does miraculously happen, then all of the things that they are describing apply even more for improving *public* transport than they do for private transport.

      Basically this economics science fantasy is a just a diversion that any engineer will take one look at and just start ignoring.

      But even as economics, it doesn’t make sense. They are comparing the upgrade costs for installing a previously inadequate public transport infrastructure with a sunk cost system (motorways). So naturally being liars with numbers they use compare a low capacity startup system with a already saturated existing system.

      Of course the per passenger costs on public transport are high. Just as the odd car travelling down the north western motorway after it was built had massive per passenger cost. The cost per unit goes down because the fixed costs are spread further as the number of trips go up. That is obvious in their graphs but the inadequate author who wrote it somehow managed to not point that obvious point out

      Basically Nick Allison, the author, is a technological idiot and I’d have to say that he appears to be useless at economics as well.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      But as the NZIER made clear last week, the future is in private cars, and ride sharing. Investment in Auckland rail is not smart.

      About the only thing that the NZIER made clear last week was that they’re a bunch of idiots who haven’t got a clue about what they’re talking about.

      • lprent 2.3.1

        Yep that was my assessment as well. You notice that it was entitled as a “NZIER public discussion paper”. Not even a report. The overall quality reminded me more of a intern level…

        Umm reminds me I have to shepherd one of them tomorrow…

  3. srylands 3

    and BTW the changes you cite are large percentage changes on tiny numbers. All the Aucklanders I know – except for people who are too young to drive – wouldn’t be seen dead on a bus. That won’t change. PT will be useful for small numbers of people, mainly the poor who can’t afford cars. But in the long run it will be cheaper for the rest of us to buy them cars!

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      Rambling libertarian rejects* reality. Read all about it.

      S Rylands thinks no-one here can see what effect building more roads has. Or perhaps he can cite somewhere on Earth where reality conforms to his paycheck.

      *and peddles trite sophistry to right wing politicians, seemingly oblivious to the hypocrisy of a libertard sucking on the public teat.

    • McFlock 3.2

      You might exclusively associate with fuckwits when you visit NZ, but almost 15 million passenger trips in the year to oct ’14 suggest that you didn’t fucking read the post.

    • Sacha 3.3

      Most major cities in the world feature a wide range of people on their public transit networks.

      Auckland had a tram network until the 1950s that supported over 100,000,000 trips per year – until a National government in bed with foreign oil companies gutted it. We still haven’t got back to that level yet, despite a hugely-increased population.

    • lprent 3.4

      srylands enhances his reputation as an delusional fool. Go and have a look in Auckland buses and trains. For that matter look in Wellington or Melbourne ones.

      Young people (by my standards) are overwhelmingly the people who are in them.

    • Tracey 3.5

      now our australian resident pretending to also live on the kapiti coast is an expert on auckland travel habits in the city…

    • Draco T Bastard 3.6

      But in the long run it will be cheaper for the rest of us to buy them cars!

      60 people traveling on the motorway. 72 by bus, 72 by car. The 72 by bus use 20 tonnes of material in the bus and about double the fuel of a single car or around 1/10th of the fuel per passenger of a car with one person in it. The 72 by car use 72 tonnes of material in the cars and a lot more fuel. Those 72 cars would also use a lot more resources being transported around the as well.

      From this we can see that it’s far cheaper to have everyone using the buses for free than it would be to buy everyone a car.

      That’s real economics rather than the delusional bullshit taught in school and university.

    • lprent 3.7

      But in the long run it will be cheaper for the rest of us to buy them cars!

      Not really. Here is the fastest way to reduce congestion on the roads… Same number of people in several different modes of transport.

      Seems pretty simple to me. Simple enough that even you could get it…

  4. karol 4

    Most major cities in the world feature a wide range of people on their public transit networks.

    And so it is in Auckland. I can afford a car. But I prefer to use public transport as much as possible. At peak times, it’s much better on a bus or train from West Auckland – can read etc, instead of sitting in a car, having to pay constant attention as the queue of traffic inches down the road.

    And people on the North Shore – not known as the poorest area of Auckland, are increasingly using the busway. It’s great in peak times – bus whizzes down the bus lane past all those poor people stuck in the slow moving traffic on the motorway.

    slylands:

    PT will be useful for small numbers of people, mainly the poor who can’t afford cars.

    hhahahaha… in Auckland it’s the opposite. Many people out west say they put up with the slow car commute because it’s cheaper than using public transport.

    • lprent 4.1

      How? They must have a source of really cheap parking…

      Where I work outside the CBD, you can still get all-day parking for $8/day. But the prices in town and in the main urban centres around the city are rapidly passing $15 for earlybird.

      When I was looking at jobs out in Albany, the main reason I didn’t take a proffered job was because there was simply no parking when I went to the interviews and it was too damn far to walk from the bus station.

      In my tech area, most of the work is steadily moving back into near to central city because otherwise they can’t get techheads willing to work for them. It simply costs too much to take a car because of parking anywhere and it is too aggravating driving.

      • karol 4.1.1

        Well, that’s what they say. But maybe they get some cheap parking for their work. Next time someone says it, I’ll ask. There’s been at least one person on TS say that they drive to the CBD fro m west Auckland because it’s cheaper.

        Mind you, the trek from Swanson/Ranui to the CBD is quite expensive by public transport and quite time consuming. But I don’t know how people put up with the daily car commute.

        • Tracey 4.1.1.1

          didnt transport blog recently do an analysis of car plus parking versus public transport out west?

        • adam 4.1.1.2

          The price for the train in west Auckland is silly, the zones are all FUBAR. There is one ride which is a 5 station ride which cost $5. Baldwin road to fruitvale road. Which is ironic, I argued against zones at the last round of submissions – saying it has silly anomalies and will stifle growth in passenger numbers. Glad to see passenger numbers are still growing, but they need to now remove the zone barrier and follow South Australia into a single flat fare.

          • karol 4.1.1.2.1

            Yes, the zone boundary is at Fruitvale. So it’s cheaper for me to walk to New Lynn Station from where I live, even though Frutivale is closer. At least, it was cheaper, before I got my gold card.

            The gold card is a major incentive to use public transport (after 9am weekdays, all times at weekends). I think the idea of free, or very cheap public transport for all should be looked at. The Greens’ policy of Green Cards for free travel, off peak times, for students and apprentices is an excellent one.

            • adam 4.1.1.2.1.1

              I do have to laugh a lot though, even with these silly blocks, like overpriced fairs, and delays in developments – Public transport keeps growing. Even if half the money needed was put into the system, public transport would flourish.

              The fair system, and the continued rises under the super city does annoy me though. A flat rate, with cheaper rates for students, apprentices, elderly, mothers, and disabled would be the way forward.

              Actually for disabled, the current put the cripple through the wringer system to get a discount pass is off putting at best (I was going to write rude words here). I know many, myself included, who won’t be put through that system again – because it is painful and some what degrading. For example asking people with no legs if they now have legs, – or blind people if they can now see – Or if you have a degenerative condition, if there has been some regeneration? So polite, such a nice way to have a dig.

              As a friend said, they would rather spend millions on remodeling cars so disabled can drive, than spend a few thousand creating disabled friendly public transport options.

      • Sacha 4.1.2

        “In my tech area, most of the work is steadily moving back into near to central city because otherwise they can’t get techheads willing to work for them”

        This is really important. In creative industries relying on staff who are globally in demand, lifestyle and professional enrichment count. If a worker can’t easily be part of communities that count to them for both work and play, then they will live in any other world city.

    • Tracey 4.2

      also, the misinformation about the loop is scary. at the moment trains bottleneck at britomart which is what prevents the trains running more often than they do now.

      this govt stubbornly sticks to urban sprawl housing without the associated piblic transport.

  5. Tracey 5

    was at te ata tu penninsula yesterday. leaving aside the plethora of leaky homes it is a prime example of urban sprawl without PT. the waterview tunnel wont remove the fundamental problem in aucklans sprawl… by tge time you drive twenty mins to the train, coupled with longer train gaps cos of britomart bottleneck, you might as well drive

    • karol 5.1

      When I drive down through Waterview during the morning peak time, I despair. How is that upgrade going to improve the gridlock of cars queuing back through Avondale to New Lynn, in order to get on to the motorway?

      Te Atatu needs a busway like the North Shore. Funny how the wealthiest suburbs got a busway long before the (what was once) working class suburb of Te Atatu Peninsular?

      • Tracey 5.1.1

        been thinking the same thing. it will give people a better west to south drive off peak BUT wont change much of the trip to the city.

        did the harbourview walk yesterday… today i drove past the ngapipi rd walkway and road repair in orakei. my partner and i commented on the huge difference in quality between the remuera orakei effort and the waitakere one.

        you also cant drive fifty metres these days in mt eden epsom remuera for judder bars… safety of children much more important in that part of town?

    • Sacha 5.2

      The redesigned bus network in 2016 will change that equation – a bus close to your home every 10 minutes, connecting to the nearest station on the rapid network, then shuttling back to do the same again rather that sitting in that traffic glugging towards the cbd.

      Just need to make sure we build more rapid network services and infrastructure like the Northwestern and Dominion Road busways rather than silly and expensive 1950s motorway frills like building a cloverleaf interchange for Albany, 4-laning Mills Road in Manukau (or adding a daft flyover for the Wellington mid-city Basin, for that matter).

      • Tracey 5.2.1

        my partner is from christchurch but has now lived in auckland for twenty three years. about twenty years ago, or so, we made a joint submission to auckland council about considering turning sandringham and dominion roads into one way streets to ease congestion.

  6. halfcrown 6

    We live south of the Bombay’s (Waikato). Both of us are very seriously thinking of using the rail network next time we visit Auckland. Can anyone tell us which is the best station to drive to and then park our car We were thinking of Pupakura, but if someone has a better suggestion it would be appreciated.

    Ta.

    • Tracey 6.1

      pukekohe is the farthest out of auckland, i think papakura is next. if you come on a weekday park at pukekohe then you miss the afternoon congestion coming back from papakura to drury.

    • tc 6.2

      Just check they go regularly to pukekohe or papakura may be a better option as time is time whether it’s in traffic or on a train.

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    Imagination By-Pass: Had the Communications Minister, Kris Faafoi (above) taken a firm stand with Bauer, reminding them of their obligations to both their staff and the wider New Zealand public, then a much more favourable outcome may well have ensued. He should have made it clear to the Bauer board ...
    3 days ago
  • Simon Bridges can’t connect
    We all know that Simon Bridges has, at the best of times, an intermittent relationship with the truth. However you would think that during a pandemic and economic crisis the current opposition leader would pull his head in and start to do the right thing.Obviously leading by example should be ...
    3 days ago
  • Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 3: Riddell et al (2019)
    Connett promotes Riddell et al (2019) as one of the only four studies one needs to read about fluoridation. But he misunderstands and misrepresents the findings of this study. Image credit: Fluoride Action ...
    3 days ago
  • Could the Atlantic Overturning Circulation ‘shut down’?
    This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Dr. Richard Wood and Dr. Laura Jackson Generally, we think of climate change as a gradual process: the more greenhouse gases that humans emit, the more the climate will change. But are there any “points of no return” that commit us to irreversible ...
    3 days ago
  • The biggest challenge for a generation ahead – covid-19. Defeat and Recovery
    Last month I wrote my blog on covid-19 pointing out the in our pre Alert Level 4 days that a subject no one had heard here months ago was now dominating the media. An amazing feature of this crisis is how quickly it has swept every other issue aside worldwide. ...
    PunditBy Wyatt Creech
    4 days ago
  • Testing for COVID-19 in NZ to Achieve the Elimination Goal
    Nick Wilson,1 Ayesha Verrall,1,2 Len Cook,3 Alistair Gray,3 Amanda Kvalsvig,1 Michael Baker,1 (1epidemiologists, 2infectious disease physician, 3statisticians) In this blog, we raise ideas for how New Zealand might optimise testing to both identify cases in the community as part of the COVID-19 elimination strategy, and to confirm when the virus ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    4 days ago
  • Should we all be wearing face masks to prevent Covid-19 spread?
    Maybe you’ve seen the graph that says those countries where everyone wears a mask are the ones that have managed to keep Covid-19 under control? The first thing to say about that claim is that those countries also did lots of other things, too – they acted fast, with intense ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    4 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14
    Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... North Atlantic's capacity to absorb CO2 overestimated, study suggests Research into ocean’s plankton likely to lead to ...
    4 days ago
  • The Americans are trying to kill us all again
    The Treaty on Open Skies is one of the most effective mechanisms for preventing war curently in force. By letting countries make surveillance flights over each others' territory, it eliminates fears that they are secretly preparing for war. So naturally, the US is planning to withdraw from it: The Trump ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 11
    . . April 5: Day eleven of living in lock-down… My one day of rest for the week, and an opportunity to mow my lawns – which I’d been delaying for about three weeks. (On the plus side, the damp micro-climate in my back yard yielded three lovely fresh mushrooms ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Now we know what the rules are
    As the lockdown has gone on, disquiet about what the rules were and the police's enforcement of them has grown. On Friday, Police admitted that they were abusing routine traffic stops to effectively set up illegal checkpoints, and on Saturday Stuff revealed internal police advice saying that they actually needed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 2: Green et al (2019)
    Paul Connett is putting all his eggs in one basket. He says “you only have to read four studies” to find community after fluoridation harmful. Image credit: Fluoride Action Network newsletter. For part 1 of this series see Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 1: Bashash et al (2018). Paul Connett, ...
    4 days ago
  • Hard News: Splore Listening Lounge 2020: the road to a “yes” vote
    As far as anyone can say, New Zeaand still has a general election scheduled for September 19 this year. The election will be accompanied by two referenda, one of which will ask voters:Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?The official campaign period for the cannabis referendum begins ...
    4 days ago
  • Obituary for The New Zealand Listener (1939-2020)
    The vast majority of tributes to the Listener hearken back to its glory days, with little reflection on the magazine as it was at its end.I wrote for it, for half the Listener’s life; I have known personally all the editors except the first (mythical) three. From 1978 to 2014 ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    4 days ago
  • Universal income – a challenge to capitalism or a crutch?
    As the world economy slides rapidly towards deep recession there are growing calls for a Universal Benefit coming from some leftists and rightists. Now Finance Minister Grant Robertson is saying it is on the table.  This article by a French party Workers Struggle provides analysis of various forms of universal ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 1: Bashash et al (2018)
    This is the advice from the very top of the anti-fluoride movement – Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Don’t worry about reading  up on all the scientific information “You only have ...
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 10
    . . April 4: Day 10 of living in lock-down… I wake up to a fine Saturday morning which normally would be like an early Christmas. But it’s Day 10 of Level 4 Lock Down. What  will my fellow New Zealanders be doing on a day like this – staying ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Redline reaching out to more writers & readers
    Some time during the night we went over the 850,000 views mark. We might have had our millionth view by the end of this year – certainly by early next year. Most of the people involved in Redline spent years and years producing various small left-wing papers and selling them ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Keir Starmer elected
    Comfortably, in the very first round, with an impressive 56% of the votes.I wonder, did members of the Shadow Cabinet start tweeting their resignations during Starmer's victory speech, or is that only a trick the right pull?It is odd how all the talk of how the next leader "needs to ...
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: Michael Baker and the Big House
    One of the key voices in this extraordinary time in which we live is that of University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker. Philip Matthews did an an excellent job this weekend of capturing the way he became the man for this moment in a profile for The Press.But one ...
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand Gives up on Trying to Save Daylight
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the nation today about the decline in daylight New Zealand has been experiencing over the previous few months. She said “As many of you will notice, our attempts to stem the dwindling of the daylight over the last few months have been completely ...
    Can of wormsBy Can of Worms, Opened
    6 days ago
  • A bulletin from Greece
    Redline received this article from the KOE a Marxist party in Greece Our friends in the KOE describe here the mounting crisis in Greece and tensions on the Turkish border. As desperate people flee from their homelands which have been ruined after decades of imperialist wars and interventions the people ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • And God spake all these words, saying
    As the first week of Level Four lockdown unfolded, mounting questions grew as to just what was (and was not) allowed under its “rules”. Partly these were driven by some apparently contradictory messages from different authority figures and explanations carried in the media. Partly they reflected a somewhat sketchy legal basis ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 9
    . . April 3: Day 9 of living in lock-down… Another late-start to my work day. Everything is temporarily upended as clients are shuffled around so we can minimise our “bubble” by reducing the number of people we help. One of my colleagues has been removed from his clients; his ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Death to our lockdown enemies!
    We must root out the traitors among us! ...
    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
    7 days ago
  • Climate Change: The benefits of electrification
    In order to meet our 2050 carbon target and do our bit to avoid making the Earth uninhabitable, New Zealand needs to decarbonise our economy, replacing fossil fuels with electricity in the energy, industrial and transport sectors. The good news is that it will mean cheaper power for all of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of a pretty flower, .   . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a cute animal video. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8
    . . April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down… Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • A note on apartments and bubbles
    As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks. Recent decades have ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • Getting in futures shape 
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Lenin Don’t we all know that feeling now.

    Prospect Magazine alerted me to this particularly apt quote. It is a much more evocative quote than Hemingway’s “gradually then suddenly” which is also doing ...

    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    1 week ago
  • Maybe axing Clark would be unfair. But what about any of this is fair?
    Yesterday was the day the consequences of the lockdown suddenly got very real for many. Firms have been closing and laying people off since the outset of the quarantine but this has mostly been happening out of the public eye. The mass closure of a number of iconic New Zealand ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Might a ‘Coasean’ social contract mitigate overall societal harm from COVID-19?
    Brian Williamson1, Prof Nick Wilson2 (1Economic consultant, UK; 2University of Otago Wellington) In this blog, we outline how a win-win social contract could be forged to address the major dimensions of response to the COVID-19 pandemic when using a mitigation strategy: the particular need to protect older people from high ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Returning To “Normalcy”.
    Resuming Normal Service: The Republican Party's nominee for in 1920, Warren Harding, promised the American people: “not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration”. If she wishes to remain our prime minister, then Jacinda Ardern will offer New Zealanders the same.HOW EDUCATED AMERICA snickered when the ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Government Must Save New Zealand’s Media.
    No Free Society Without A Free And Functioning News Media: If we are to surrender our civil rights to the broader cause of defeating Covid-19, then foreign corporations must, likewise, surrender their right to inflict immense economic and cultural harm on New Zealanders simply because it improves their bottom line.I’M ...
    1 week ago
  • Corona fevers and the madness of models
    by Daphna Whitmore A third of the world is under lockdown and a clear assessment of this measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is urgently needed.  With any high-stakes decisions it has to be asked what are we dealing with here? Are the measures warranted? Will they achieve their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Lockdown day 8
    I haven’t done a huge amount in the last few days. I’m reading The Poppy War and I’ve sort of poked at a couple of games – I started SOMA but I’m a wimp and I quit while in the first room after the brain scan. I might try it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    1 week ago
  • Backstage and Theatre
    The swan politicians may be gliding on the water, occasionally snapping at one another. Meanwhile, as the Covid19 crisis illustrates, the officials are desperately paddling below providing the real locomotion. One of the most fatuous recent grandstanding comments (of about a week ago), adding to the public’s anxieties, was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Legal Beagle: Waiver, the singular Crown and the conduct of Crown legal business
    Much has been written about the importance of discretion in an emergency situation, and the concerns raised by the potential for it to be exercised arbitrarily. Given the quality of the discussion, there seemed little point in adding to it at any length. In particular, I point to the evidence ...
    1 week ago
  • Highlights from Bauer Media’s science-related reporting
    Today has felt surreal. I was all set to touch base online with my science communication students when a colleague shared the news that Bauer Media would be shutting down its publications immediately. The first link I saw implied it was Woman’s Weekly affected, and even that shocked me. But ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    1 week ago
  • Outsiders.
    Bogeymen, Real And Imagined: Is the number of psychopathic and sociopathic individuals in any given society truly as vanishingly small as we like to tell ourselves? Isn’t it more likely that the mass-shooters and serial-killers filling the headlines represent only the tip of a much, much larger iceberg of frightfulness? ...
    1 week ago
  • We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey
    Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of my cat, . . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a pretty flower. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7
    . . April 1: Day seven of living in lock-down… This morning I had a brief chat with one of my neighbours, “D” (social distance between us, a good three or four metres). I learned he had resigned from his previous job and had been hired by another company – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • RIP The Listener, New Zealand’s pioneering voice
    Funnily enough, my thought as I start this post is whether it will be well written enough. Or should that be well enough written? Because so much of what I know about good writing came from my two stints at The Listener, which this morning was shut down due to ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • OK, Britney: stop sniping at National for doing its job
    With normal democratic procedures in abeyance, there were two ways to go. First, it was open for the government to dissolve itself and invite the National Party to join a ministry of national salvation. That would have lessened the democratic deficit of the times by having a team of rivals without ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Helpful tips for parents during lockdown
    Dr Kirsty Ross Children and young people can respond differently in times of distress. This also varies by age and developmental stage, with younger children having more magical and imaginative thinking, and older children having more awareness and knowledge of the issues our communities are facing (which brings up ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    1 week ago
  • Hungary is now a dictatorship
    Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
    While the economy is on pause under lockdown, the government is beginning to plan how to cope with the post-lockdown, post-tourism, post-export education world we will eventually find ourselves in. They're planning a lot of infrastructure spending as economic stimulus, and have asked for proposals which can start the moment ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: Diamond Harbour School Blogs I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or ...
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    1 week ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
    For almost a week now, every one of us who isn’t an essential worker has been confined to their bubble. We are allowed to go shopping for groceries, to visit the doctor, and to get a bit of exercise if we stay local. The reason we are doing this is ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • A Government System That Works
    The Covid-19 saga will no doubt produce many twists and turns for us before it is finally brought to an end. But one thing it has shown us – and what comfort it should bring us – is that our country’s government is in good hands. I am not thinking ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago

  • Decisions made on urgent turf maintenance
    The Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has announced that urgent maintenance of turf and care for plants in non-plantation nurseries will soon be able to go ahead under Level 4 restrictions. “The Government has agreed that urgent upkeep and maintenance of biological assets will be able to go ahead ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Acknowledging an extraordinary te reo champion
    E tangi ana a Taranaki iwi, e tangi ana te ao Māori, otirā e tangi ana te motu. Mōu katoa ngā roimata e riringi whānui ana, mōu katoa ngā mihi.   E te kaikōkiri i te reo Māori, e Te Huirangi, takoto mai. Takoto mai me te mōhio ko ngā ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Prime Minister’s remarks halfway through Alert Level 4 lockdown
    Today is day 15 of Alert Level 4 lockdown. And at the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge. In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Licenses, WoFs and regos extended under lockdown
    All driver licences, WoFs, CoFs, and some vehicle certifications, that expired on or after 1 January 2020 will be valid for up to six months from 10 April 2020, Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced. “People shouldn’t have to worry about getting fined for having an expired document if driving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Inquiry report into EQC released
    The Government has today released the report from the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright.  Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Grant Robertson says the Government wants to learn from people’s experiences following the Canterbury earthquakes and other recent natural disasters. “Dame Silvia’s report documents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • More time for health workers and elderly to get flu vaccine
    The Government has extended by two weeks till April 27 the amount of time priority groups, such as health workers and those aged over 65, have to get their flu vaccine before it is made available to the wider public. This year’s vaccination campaign is a key component of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Communities step up to help New Zealanders stay connected and fed during lockdown
    Communities stepping up to help New Zealanders stay at home to break the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives have received Government support, said Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. “Delivering groceries for the elderly who can’t shop online, providing data packs for low income families to keep them connected, and being ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • 120 COVID-19 testing centres now operating
    Across New Zealand 120 sites are taking samples to be tested for COVID-19.   68 community based assessment centres (CBACs) have been established to take samples from people with COVID-19 symptoms. Alongside this, 52 other centres including designated general practices, swabbing centres, and mobile clinics are now testing people for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Covid19: Government moving quickly to roll out learning from home
    The Ministry of Education is working with partners to develop a package of options so that students can learn at home when Term 2 begins on 15 April, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Supports are also being prepared for households with children under five, to help parents and whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Making learning from home accessible to Māori learners and whānau
    Māori Television to begin educational te reo programmes Ki te Ao Mārama – a new online learning space Thousands of hard copy learning packs ready for distribution Helpdesk and advice service for kōhanga, kura and wharekura Television, the internet and hard copy learning packs are some of the ways whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand to provide assistance to Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Harold
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced an initial package of support to help the people and the Government of Vanuatu respond to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Harold. “Our Pacific neighbours have been hit by a Category 5 Cyclone at the same time as dealing with the economic impacts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Planning for the future of tourism
    Tourism New Zealand to lead work reimagining the way tourism operates in post-COVID-19 world. Ministers to review International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy investment plan. The Government, industry and business are working together to develop a plan for how tourism will operate in a post-COVID-19 world, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ horticulture sector feeding Kiwis and the world during COVID-19
    More New Zealanders are taking up the chance to work in horticulture as the sector keeps New Zealanders fed and in jobs during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Work to repurpose PGF funds begins
    The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. “We need to be throwing everything we have at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • A million workers supported by Govt wage subsidy
    The Government’s wage subsidy to protect jobs and keep workers and businesses connected during the lockdown has now supported over a million New Zealanders, with $6.6 billion already paid out. “We’re supporting businesses to pay wages, and stay connected with their workers so that we are all in a better ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government helps Pacific communities fight COVID
    The Government is stepping up efforts to help protect New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet has agreed that $17 million will be allocated to support a COVID-19 Pacific Response Package, which will: Support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand; Ramp up public health messaging ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark
    “Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.  “But right now, my priority is our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Statement from David Clark
    Last night as part of my preparation for the Epidemic Response Committee, I provided the Prime Minister with a complete picture of my activity outside my home during Alert Level 4.  That included the fact that on the first weekend of the Alert Level 4 lockdown I drove my family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19 mental health support begins
    A range of support is being rolled out across New Zealand to help people look after their mental health during COVID-19 Health Minister David Clark said this morning. “COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives and many of us will be feeling some level of distress or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealanders in Peru to be assisted by Government charter flight
    The New Zealand Government has made arrangements to charter a flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. “Like many travellers around the world at the moment, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19 Hospital Preparation Well Advanced
    Hospital preparations for COVID-19 are well advanced says Health Minister David Clark. “Hospitals across New Zealand are repurposing buildings and training staff to get ready for COVID-19 patients. This gives me confidence that we are well prepared for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospital level care,” said David ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government supports air services to offshore islands
    The Government has stepped in to support vital air links to our offshore islands, the Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island and Motiti Island, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. “As part of our $600 million support package to minimise the impacts of COVID-19 on the aviation sector, the Government has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
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