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Wake up, Bill

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, February 13th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: bill english, economy - Tags:

Bill English is living in a dream, and he may create a nightmare for the rest of us.

Last week, he said the recession would be over in 6-12 months. He hasn’t bothered to announce any significant new spending in response to the recession – all the supposedly new spending he has announced so far has come out of the normal budget for new programmes set aside last in last May’s Budget before the credit crisis that would have been spent anyway, and is mostly repackaging of spending that was going to happen anyway. Yesterday, he seemed to doubt the recession was something to worry about at all – “people feel they have more cash in their pockets and they are wondering when the recession is going to hit them”. Well, the recession may not have hit Bill English’s New Zealand yet, the New Zealand of wealthy land-owning people with secure incomes, but it sure has hit the 10,000 Kiwis who found themselves out of work and in the dole queue in December alone, and the thousands who have joined them since.

No, the recession isn’t all that bad yet. Unemployment is still well lower than National ever achieved in the 1990s because of Labour’s success in achieving full employment. On average, we are still richer than we were in 2006. If you’ve got a safe job, good pay, and a mortgage, you’ve got more cash in hand now than a year ago. But we are only in the first round of the recession and the self-reinforcing effect of very low unemployment has, so far, protected jobs.

That is set to change if things are allowed to go on the way they are. If the 7% unemployment Treasury and others are predicting by year end comes to pass we will have moved to structural unemployment that will start reinforcing the recession – lower demand from both the newly unemployed and those who still have jobs but can’t get decent wage rises and, wary of losing their jobs, save rather than spend, will keep the economy from recovering, as it did through the early 1990s recession. When the labour market switches from being counter-recessionary to pro-recessionary, it won’t just be what the Herald calls ‘the other New Zealand’ that will be hurting, it will be everyone.

That’s why it’s so important to be acting decisively now. Screw this ignorant, nonsensical bollocks that the journos are parroting about the need to keep some powder dry for when things get really bad. A given economic stimulus is not going to be somehow more powerful later. It’s better to use it now to keep us from getting into a deeper hole than start using it when we are deeper in the vicious recessionary spiral. If you’re getting sucked into a whirlpool, you don’t hold back some engine power for later, you go full bore before it’s too late.

Avoiding the point when unemployment starts to spiral up and up should be a priority of the Government, if it isn’t already too late. Problem is, Bill English, the man with his hands on the nation’s purse strings, thinks there is nothing to worry about. He believes the recession will fix itself in no time, despite what his officials and everyone else are saying.

Like a climate change denier, English seems to think (needs to think, to keep his ideology intact) that all the experts are wrong and there’s nothing to worry about. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.

32 comments on “Wake up, Bill ”

  1. Daveski 1

    Any balanced analysis would have acknowledged the downside risk of your proposed strategy. The more we spend now, the more we have to pay back later lumping future generations with debt.

    You seem to have forgotten very quickly Labour’s reaction to National’s proposal for a small increase in debt prior to the election. So now, the problem is that National’s not borrowing recklessly?

    I agree there is a balance. I agree that things may get much worse.

    At the same time, National has acknowledged there will be around $5 billion of addition spending of the next 3 years or so which would seem to negate your key point.

  2. Redbaiter 2

    Government spending is not the solution. Its throwing petrol on the fire.

  3. Daveski. The problem has changed hugely since the criticisms of Natioanl wanting to increase debt. As far as I can recall, I dropped criticism of increasing debt in about or September, when it became clear we were facing a world-wide recession.

    The new spending of $4.5 billion National is talking about is the normal increase in government spending, forecast in the Budget last May, it is not a reaction to the recession. Indeed, it represents only a 7-8% increase in nominal government spending, not much when you take inflation into account. If we were talking $5 billion in addition to that, we would be cooking with gas.

    Redbaiter. If you want the fire of the economy to keep burning as brightly as it is, you need to give it the fuel. More fundementally, we need to be using the spending to refrom the economy, not just keep it ticking over.

  4. BLiP 4

    Daveski said:

    ” . . . At the same time, National has acknowledged there will be around $5 billion of addition spending of the next 3 years or so which would seem to negate your key point. . . .”

    Trouble is that what National says and reality are diverging at an increasing rate. Has there been any data released as to the “$5 billion of addition(al) spending) you mention or are you just taking a politician’s word for it?

  5. Redbaiter 5

    The whole problem, from go to whoa, is the belief that government knows best how to spend money. It doesn’t. It can never do anything right. Government is behind the recession, and government action will prolong the recession. If I had time, I’d tell you more about why, but in reality, the evidence is plain. Look at history.

  6. Bill 6

    Putting aside all my political bias I cannot for the world of me see how all the ongoing panic and collapses will result in the ‘short, sharp shock’ that Bill English and others seem to be hoping for.

    Ed Balls appears to be being more realistic. A close ally of G. Brown and former chief economic adviser to the UK Treasury, he reckons “The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I’m sure, over 100 years, as it will turn out.”


    Given the interconnectedness of national economies, but allowing for some disparity on the effects each will experience, I can’t escape the feeling that all national economies are like so many three legged rabbits suffering from various stages of mixamytosis, caught in the headlights.

    Which means that Bill’s delusions are irrelevant insofar as there may well be nothing governments can do to avoid what is, arguably inevitable.

    If governments are in the business of protecting and developing the economy we are wedded to, and if they cannot execute that function and it all comes crashing down, then where to next might be a more pertinent and productive line of enquiry than hoping against hope that there might be some policy, some silver bullet that will stop the future in it’s tracks.

    Dolly Parton and her wee D-I-V-O-R-C-E song comes to mind. But where do we go and how do we survive without the sense of security we have built, based on ongoing Capitalism?

  7. ieuan 7

    Steve who are the ‘New Zealand of wealthy land-owning people with secure incomes’?

    Do you mean farmers? Because they are certainly feeling the recession just ask any dairy farmer, or do you mean people who own property? Because they may not have seen a drop in income yet but certainly will have seen a drop in the value of their assets.

    Or do these people simply not exist?

  8. northpaw 8


    The whole problem, from go to whoa, is the belief that government knows best how to spend money

    How does an examination of history explain this issue. Further, how come only the spending of money is the “whole problem”.? And why do you constantly cite governments — the accepted modern creators of money — for dismissal in this respect..?

    BTW: there’s something in a name, as I am sure you are well aware, though not perhaps wishing that it invite disregard and/or insult. Impediments to discussion, discourse, debate that such things become cause of effect of.

  9. northpaw 9

    Oops, the first ‘of’ should read ‘and’ – thus cause and effect – in the forgoing comment.

  10. vto 10

    SP “Well, the recession may not have hit Bill English’s New Zealand yet, the New Zealand of wealthy land-owning people with secure incomes, but it sure has hit the 10,000 Kiwis who found themselves out of work and in the dole queue in December alone”

    In fact SP, the depression hit your so-called wealthy land-owners first. August 2007 the sentiment went into reverse in the property market and anyone with experience could see the writing on the wall. The wise immediately started sitting on their hands – with the consequent instantaneous drop in values. It was only those who could not see that who carried on blindly for a while after.

    The rise in unemployment did not start until well into 2008.

    The so-called wealthy (not talking about the super rich) are hurting far more than the so-called workers now out of a job. I know many who have seen their lives obliterated in recent times. It may be that they are less noticed because they don’t go and join the dole queue or register on some govt list thing that can be counted.

    And without having another dig at Wgtn, but it may also be that Wgtn’s isolation is again being highlighted through your somewhat ignorant statement. I have posted before that Wgtn seems to click onto things well after they have happenned – usually because they rely on bureacrats tallying something up.

    I have posted before that it is far more painful, and far more of a change to a family’s life, to go from having $1million to $100 than it is to go from having $10,000 to $100. Don’t waste time trying to convince me otherwise – I see it yesterday, and right now today.

    Your statements and constant digs at the so-called wealthy, especially when untrue, rile. But it seems that is part of your job description…

  11. vto 11

    Perhaps Bill was actually referring to people like you SP? Still got your job or business or income? Ay?

  12. Jum 12

    Left leaning democracies in US and UK. Right leaners in NZ.
    Key doing the opposite to Brown and Obama.

    With Key’s ‘we would love to see wages drop’ statement and English’ refusal to help workers stay in work point to a clear goal. Desperate, cheap labour. Working with Act National hopes to duplicate the Douglas and Richardson policies where people were left in a position of no strength, both physically and mentally, to protest or to demand better treatment.

    Whatever the size of this manmade recession/depression the NAct plan is always the same – create a cheap underclass willing to live on Mexican wages.

    I suggest you check out the richlist. Farmers no, moneytraders and asset strippers hiding their money from shareholders and workers would be closer to it.

  13. Daveski 13

    Jum – nice rhetoric.

    Meanwhile, back in reality …

    1. NZ actually went in to recession before the events up north happened.
    2. The campaign based on Key’s supposed view “we would love to see wages drop” has been proven to be a deception largely fostered here. There’s been not one acknowledge from SP et that they got it wrong (strange, not one acknowledgement either that they got it wrong on the EFA!!)
    3. Key not doing what Brown and Obama are doing because we weren’t as stupid as them.

  14. Adders 14

    “I have posted before that it is far more painful, and far more of a change to a family’s life, to go from having $1million to $100 than it is to go from having $10,000 to $100. Don’t waste time trying to convince me otherwise’

    The first million is always the hardest to lose. After that, they’re easy.

  15. Jum 15

    “We only see the monster’s tail,” he said. “How many hundreds of thousands of victims are slaving away in sweatshops, fields, mines, factories, or trapped in domestic servitude? Their numbers will surely swell as the economic crisis deepens the pool of potential victims.”

    This is a survey of current global human trafficking. I couldn’t help but relate it to my previous post about cheap desperate labour pools. I have minimal trust in NAct altering that dynamic. I have every expectation they will use the rec/depression to enhance that.

    I probably sound a bit like a conspiracy theorist but we know that Lord xxx visited Key. Lord xxx is noted as one of the ‘key’ deeply conservative architects in devising, amongst other extreme conservative social engineering aims, a global malleable labour pool – it’s already happening in Europe – with no individual country control over workers’ conditions.

    We know Key has spent time in all the ‘right’ places and received all the ‘right’ advice to achieve his backers’ goal. Firstly, I have no doubt it will happen within the next 4-5 years.

    Secondly, and far more disappointing, women will allow it, women who owe it to their children to secure a happier future for them in NZ.

  16. Jum 16

    It’s remarkably easy and lucrative to cause a financial meltdown when the end result is worth far more.

  17. Pascal's bookie 17


    1) http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/01/business/02econ-web.php

    America enters recession Dec 07.

    2) Key’s wages comment (at the most charitable reading) was that wages should only ever rise at the level of productivity growth.
    He said this at a time of inflation worries, (which is what his questioner was talking about). If inflation outstrips productivity growth Daveski, what happens to real wages under such a scheme? What did Key say was the preferred solution to his questioners concerns about inflation driven wage pressures ? (Hint “love to see wages drop”)

    Evidence for this is the confused clusterbumble of a response to the story, (didn’t say it, journo’s a kid, talking about australia etc), culminating in the call from sydney management and the bizarre ‘clarification’ that didn’t retract the words, only what the words meant.

    The recent minimum wage increase proves slightly less than you seem to think.

    3) Who is ‘we’? Who is ‘them’?

    Thanking in advance….

  18. higherstandard 18

    3) Who is ‘we’? Who is ‘them’?

    Judging from your post ‘we’ is Travelleve, yourself, Jum and if few others who seem to think we should be checking for 666 underneath Key’s hairline.

    ‘Them” would be those that don’t agree with ‘we’

  19. HS,

    Excuse me? You’re acting a tad obsessive here. Tell me you didn’t know that John Key has met with Lord Aschcroft. Most people do, that’s the statement of we Jum uses.

    Where does the 666 come from? John Key is a proven liar that is a fact but does not make him into a Satanist or the “devil”.

    He is just your average no offence, it’s nothing personal greedy bastard out to get more for himself and his mates. That’s fine if you’re one of his mates but not the quality I look for in a democratic leader whose supposed to look out for all the people living in a country.

    His government has so fat evaded all discussion about their new laws and governed under the cloak of “Urgency” not a quality I look for in a democratic government of the people of the people.

    You would do yourself a favour by taking of the blinkers and start reading some real newspapers instead of the NZH as your sole source of news. Not that I have hopes for you but hey you never know maybe one day when it’s all gone to shit you will watch the Money Masters and realise that you and all your National voting sucker friends have been had.

    It’s all nice to try to keep me or some of the others who are actually trying to inform assholes like you in line with ridicule but in the end mate your only harming yourself.

    Do yourself a favour and educate yourself before you come out here with your sad, misguided, dishonest and pathetic remarks, your making a spectacle of yourself.

  20. Pascal's bookie 20

    hs, it was just the other day you were confused about strawman arguments and here you are pulling them off with, well, stilted plodding cliched hackwork. But still, Well done!

    I trust you didn’t plagiarise.

    My question was serious. It is unclear who ‘we’ and ‘them’ are is in Daveski’s comment.

    Is he saying that NZ doesn’t have to do what Brown and Obama are doing because Labour cleverly kept our books in a better state than Bush and Blair. Or is he saying that Key isn’t doing what Brown and Obama are doing, because what Brown and Obama are doing is stupid.

    In any case if you ever decide to stop being a complete fuckwit, join a conversation sometime based on what’s being said, rather than just carrying on your tiresome jibes at jum and eve. What’s that all about?

  21. higherstandard 21


    “Do yourself a favour and educate yourself before you come out here with your sad, misguided, dishonest and pathetic remarks, your making a spectacle of yourself.”

    I think you might have my comments mixed up with bigoted drivel


    Best you potter back to your meeting for trainee felchtards …… plagiarised from sod

  22. the sprout 22

    “[Bill] said the recession would be over in 6-12 months”

    sounds like Bush talking about Iraq.

  23. Jum 23

    Higher Standard
    You seem to think I see Key as The Devil. Apart from the new information that suggests the number is actually 616, I simply want my children’s country to enter a future that sees people as being worth more than money. It’s a simple wish. I don’t believe for one moment that Key and Co want that for My children.

    That’s not Key being the Devil; that’s Key being a free-marketeer and moneytrader who saw that having a shxx-load of money and a perfectly manicured family (that’s the only people in his life I do think are real) could get him Helensville, with a little wheeling and dealing, then National leader by backstabbing Brash (that doesn’t bother me, but at least you knew what Brash was about) and then using misinformation and money (tax cuts) to buy New Zealanders.

    I went to a National pre-election meeting where he badmouthed Helen Clark in very personal terms, to the laughter and clapping of a huge audience. He is not a nice man. Make no mistake about that!

    Captcha: melting 10,000,000

  24. HS,

    Your comments are bigoted drivel you sad sack of shit.
    Your nasty little ad hominem attacks are the only thing you’ve got. Pathetic.

  25. higherstandard 25


    I was thinking more of bigoted drivel along the lines of these fine efforts ….

    “Things have not changed no matter what pretty boy they found (they failed there as well) with the pretty family (that was a clever move, but certainly an obvious cynical political move to all but the near dead (or the undead)); the right want to change this country into a grasping, giant black hole of consumerism and then present it to their shareholders/controllers/pimps/Daleks overseas.”

    “The righties and the religious hate women being leaders.”

    “Yes, as far as behaving in public is concerned JK does it by the book. Open anger I have noticed is not the Pakeha Kiwi way. They always smile and behave in public while stabbing each other in the back. “

  26. HS,

    It is polite to mention whom you quote from as other people have tried to point out to you before. You took the time to find them and copy and paste so why not go the whole hog and give credit where credit is due and perhaps give the links so people can find these quotes in context.

    All those quotes come from people (including one from me) who are willing to stick their neck out with actual arguments and information such as links to video’s that might actually educate people about say the financial collapse where facing.

    Yum tells us for example that he actually attended a National pre-election meeting and found that while John Key in public played mr. Nice Guy and “hey, I don’t do ad hominem attacks on politicians”. but when he thought himself surrounded by kindred souls he actively took part in personal and ad hominem attacks.

    When a young man armed with a recorder asked prominent National leaders questions and the thought themselves among their own they told him other things than they told the general public.

    Conclusion JK and National leaders are hypocritical and backstabbing what’s more the predominant Anglo-Saxon culture frowns upon open anger and insist on the suppression of genuine emotions in favour of highly ritualised and artificial interactions. This goes from funerals to weddings. I’ve been to Pakeha funerals of very much loved members of families in which not a single souls shed a tear for fear of being accused of inappropriate emotional display. This is is not limited to New Zealand it is noticeable in every Anglo Saxon society. The only release valve it seems is unseemly behaviour during drunken binges, something unheard of in Mediterranean countries for example.

    So it is a correct conclusion to say that John Key plays it by the book and is uncannily good at manipulating people into dropping the “proper” behaviour so he can come of as the “nice guy”.

    Misogyny is another well documented fact of Anglo Saxon culture (even if that is not limited to A-S culture) and the first quote supports my description of the general attitude of the Anglo-Saxon culture and to top it of even your callous and predictable ridicule is a well-known and much practised manipulation technique practised by your average middle class middle-aged white male in Anglo-Saxon society in order not to have to address grievances.

    It’s what Anglo-Saxon society has done around the world for a very long time.

    In fact this thread about Bill English’s state of denial and his consequent downplaying of the severity of the pending economic collapse addresses very accurately how Bill English actively maintains his ignorance through denial and ridicule.

    I quote:

    English seems to think (needs to think, to keep his ideology intact) that all the experts are wrong and there’s nothing to worry about. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of us

    So in conclusion I’d put it to you that I responded to your last suggestive and accusatory ad hominem attack with another well reasoned and argued comment with arguments that support my previous statement. Now try and come back without ridicule and actually show us that your teachers didn’t fail miserably in teaching that all important skill all of us should have: the capability to debate and convince on arguments instead of ridicule and ad hominem attacks.

    Give me a reason to say: Wow, HS actually has a brain. He just doesn’t use it very much, more’s the pity.

  27. higherstandard 27


    For fear of feeding the troll.

    “The righties and the religious hate women being leaders.’

    Margaret Thatcher ?

    “Misogyny is another well documented fact of Anglo Saxon culture (even if that is not limited to A-S culture)”

    But you seem to reiterate the fact that it is those evil Anglo saxons who shoulder the blame when the most vile acts of misogyny come from outside what most would term Anglo Saxon culture.

    “So in conclusion I’d put it to you that I responded to your last suggestive and accusatory ad hominem attack with another well reasoned and argued comment with arguments that support my previous statement.”

    Was that this statement by you ……….”Your comments are bigoted drivel you sad sack of shit.
    Your nasty little ad hominem attacks are the only thing you’ve got. Pathetic.”

    Eve you seem to have an extraordinary contempt for Anglo Saxon society and anyone/thing who doesn’t subscribe to your world view. Having met both Key and Clark on a number of occasions I can assure you they are both very pleasant people, both quite driven individuals and both passionate about this country and the people within it.

  28. HS,

    It seems that you are one of the few people who seems to think I’m a troll so I’ll leave that aside although of course it sets that tone of ridicule and prejudice right from the start of your response.

    Let me give you a couple of examples of other prominent females in the right wing neo-con sphere and I’ll leave it to those who follow our discussion as to whether Margareth Thatcher and these female shaped creatures are representative of the average female. Here they are: Ann Coulter and Michelle Melkin and on the “left” I give you Hilary Clinton. Prominent female leaders and pundits are these the women you meet everyday?

    As for Mysogyny and blame. It seems to me that you agree with the fact that Anglo-Saxon culture harbours a misogynist streak. This is interesting. I have not assigned or even discussed blame and I acknowledged the fact that the Anglo-Saxon culture is not the only one with a misogynist streak but rather than simply acknowledging this fact you argue that I assign blame or even that the Anglo-Saxon culture should shoulder some kind fo responsibility for Misogyny on a global scale. I don’t know where the shoulder the blame remark originates from but I am a firm believer in discussing the colour of our own pot rather than talk about some ones else’s kettle.

    If we agree that there is a misogynist streak in our society than we can agree on addressing it. Let other cultures and peoples fight it out amongst themselves I say.

    There you go again. Instead of acknowledging the fact that I bring forth arguments and information in general (one of the reasons why I’m not considered a troll by many) and occasionally loose my cool you concentrate on those moments I loose my cool trying to ridicule these remarks rather than addressing the fact that perhaps I have a point. This I’m afraid reinforced the impression that Anglo-Saxon middle class males use the ridicule tool as away to avoid real debate.

    Your last remark is a point of opinion and does not have much to do with arguments based on solid evidence. I’m sure that John Key and Helen Clark are pleasant in their general demeanour. For one it wouldn’t help them if they where rude or dismissive to those they want to vote for them. That’s what politicians do.

    As for their attitude towards this country I will leave that judgement to the history books and the professors researching both I don’t know all the facts but what I do know about the financial world and John Key’s role in it give me reason to be very afraid for the world and with regards to John Key’s position in NZ while the financial world is collapsing I am most doubtful he will do any good for this country.

    That is my opinion based on the fact that I read about 120 Newspapers everyday. From the wall street journal to the Independent. From the Asian times to the Iranian Press site. From the New York Times to the Socialist website to name a few.

    As for what you seem to consider my contempt the following. I live in New Zealand and find myself surrounded by amazing amiable and good people. I’m also surrounded by ignorant uninformed angry people. Is this limited to New Zealand or the Anglo Saxon world. Hell no, but again I point the point I made earlier. This is the place I live and this is where I can make my voice heard.

    I don’t live in Saudi Arabia or Israel or Russia or Iran. I live here. Contempt has nothing to do with it but speaking my mind has.

    As for having difference of opinions I have no problem with people having other opinions than mine it’s when they try to silence dissent through ridicule is when I start to get stroppy.

    Why HS, That was an actual attempt at engaging the brain rather than do the lazy. I thank you and you should try to use it more because if you don’t more’s the pity.

  29. higherstandard 29

    “”The righties and the religious hate women being leaders.’

    “Let me give you a couple of examples of other prominent females in the right wing neo-con sphere and I’ll leave it to those who follow our discussion as to whether Margareth Thatcher and these female shaped creatures are representative of the average female. Here they are: Ann Coulter and Michelle Melkin and on the “left’ I give you Hilary Clinton. Prominent female leaders and pundits are these the women you meet everyday?”

    So if I am to understand you properly Margaret Thatcher and the others you have mentioned are not really women at all but are “female shaped creatures ” should we also add Shipley and Richardson to the list and all others from the perceived political right . because they couldn’t possibly be representative of women in general.

    “I live in New Zealand and find myself surrounded by amazing amiable and good people. I’m also surrounded by ignorant uninformed angry people. ”

    What political leanings do you believe the amiable and good people have .. how about the ignorant and uniformed people ?

  30. In response to your questions.
    To most people Hilary Clinton is very much a female from the left wing hey, she even features as the secretary for foreign affairs under Obama.

    I asked you a question. Do you see the aforementioned females as your average female? No answers there yet.

    There you go assuming the worst again.

    In answer to your second question: I have met a lot of good and amiably people who are both left and right leaning. Hell, someone I greatly appreciate ends all our conversations with the statement that John Key is his friend (They never met so how he got that idea I don’t know but if that is how he feels than I hope that he’s right).

    That seems to be the paradigm here. left= Labour right=National. Simple, straight forward and oh so last century. The problems facing us are much more complicated than that and require a much more comprehensive understanding of our global reality way beyond the left/right paradigm.

    So now it’s your turn again. Why not try to answer my question. I stick my neck out to possible ridicule so why not respond in kind.

  31. higherstandard 31


    I have no idea what the average female is, does, or should look like.

    Hilary Clinton is hardly a politician of the left (USA left maybe but the left there is hardly what most people in NZ would call it)

    I’m not sure why you can’t accept that Jum’s comment that ….””The righties and the religious hate women being leaders.'” was patently bigoted drivel much as the comments on this blog at times regarding those of the left (or right) being more likely to be charitable.

    “The problems facing us are much more complicated than that and require a much more comprehensive understanding of our global reality way beyond the left/right paradigm.”

    On that note I’ll agree with you.

  32. northpaw 32


    fatal attraction that this comment may be considered as michelle might say — MALKIN, babe! The ‘e’ s are in enough trouble.

    In truth I was struck with the irony of having elsewhere this morning recommended that a commenter substitute an ‘a’ for an ‘e’ in his name… anf there you go with an ‘e’ for someone else..

    BTW: how come you tried parallel the likes of Coulter and Malkin with the US Secretary of State?

    And, to close — promise there will be no more education4U from me — that you would sacrifice your better judgement on the altar of time is the crowning glory of your prior “don’t know what you are on about”. Remarkableness.

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