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Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand…

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Today’s (9 June 2014)  editorial in the ‘Dominion Post was an interesting take on the John Banks Affair and National’s cynical exploitation of MMP’s “coat tailing” provision;

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Stuff.co.nz

Editorial: Discredited flaw still being exploited

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

Every electoral system has flaws which politicians exploit. The coat-tailing provision of MMP is now utterly discredited, but it survives because it serves powerful political interests – especially the National Party’s. The clause should be abolished, but no National-led government will do so.

Labour promises to quickly abolish the clause, which allows a party with just one electorate seat to avoid the 5 per cent parliamentary threshold, if it gains power. There is already a paradox here. Labour might have to rely on the votes of the Mana-Internet Party to do so. But Mana-Internet will get into Parliament only via the coat-tailing clause. Nobody believes it will get 5 per cent of the vote.

The case for abolishing coat-tailing is overwhelming, and was made by the Electoral Commission in 2012. That inquiry grew out of John Key’s promise to “kick the tyres” of MMP, but his government ignored the recommendations. The reason is quite simple: coat-tailing helps the National Party. The Government’s refusal to take any notice of the inquiry was naked realpolitik and a supremely cynical act.

National’s coat-tailing deals with ACT in Epsom have left an especially sour taste in voters’ mouths. Key’s “tea-party” with the-then ACT leader John Banks before the 2011 election was widely recognised as a stunt.

The politicians invited the media to their meeting and then shut them out of the coffee-house while they had their “secret” and entirely meaningless chat. It added insult to injury that Key complained to the police after a journalist taped their conversation.

National and ACT had done similar self-serving deals in Epsom before, and showed just how unfair coat-tailing can be. In the 2008 election ACT got 3.65 per cent of the vote but won five seats in the House thanks to coat-tailing. New Zealand First, by contrast, got slightly more than 4 per cent of the vote but no seats in the House, because it won no electorate. This was mad, but highly convenient to the two right-wing parties.

Coat-tailing, in fact, has kept the dying and discredited ACT party alive. It delivered John Banks a seat in the House, and this week Banks stood disgraced when found guilty in the High Court of knowingly filing a false electoral return. Key, whose self-serving deal with Banks has hurt his own credibility, has even persisted in defending Banks’ “honesty” since the verdict. Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere.

Hard-nosed strategists such as Internet Party leader Laila Harre argue that this is “taking back MMP”, as though this kind of thing was a blow for people power instead of the cynical politicking that it really is.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, no matter what power-hungry politicians might think. The Government should abolish the coat-tailing clause, along with its associated overhang provision, and drop the 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent. However, it won’t happen while National is in power.

– The Dominion Post

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Note the highlighted sentence; ” Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere“.

That statement demanded a response…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:11:45 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

 

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The editor
Dominion Post

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Your editorial on National's exploitation of MMP's
'coat-tailing' provision was insightful until this jarring
statement ruined it;

"Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry
coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira's
electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere." (9 June)

What "tawdry coat-tailing deal" might that be?

Because every indication is that not only will Labour refuse
to engage in any deal-making, but  MPs Chris Hipkins, Kelvin
Davis, Stuart Nash, et al, have been vociferously attacking
the Internet-Mana Party on social media. If any such "deal"
exists, someone forgot to tell those Labour MPs.

However, if even Labour and Mana-Internet came to an
Epsom-like arrangement - so what?

Those are the rules that this government has decreed and
must be played. Anyone playing by some other mythical
"principled" rules will sit saint-like on the Opposition
benches whilst National gerrymanders the system.

Suggesting otherwise creates an unlevel playing field that
benefits one, at the expense of others, and is untenable.

If it's good enough for National to arrange deals in Epsom,
Ohariu, and soon with the Conservative Party, then it should
be good enough for everyone.

No one takes a knife to a gunfight unless they are dead-set
on losing.


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

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References

Dominion Post:  Editorial – Discredited flaw still being exploited

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

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Oh, the height of irony as various National MPs bleat on about Mana-Internet Party “coat-tailing” on Hone Harawira’s electorate…

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FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Thu, 29 May 2014 12:51:49 +1200
TO: "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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Gerry Brownlee, other National MPs, supporters, and assorted
hangers-on have accused the Mana and Internet Party Alliance
of "stitching" up a deal and "coat-tailing" on Hone
Harawira's electorate of Te Tai Tokerau.

I might remind Mr Brownlee and National's fellow-travellers
that, after taking hundreds of public submissions, the
Electoral Commission recommended in May last year to do away
with the "coat tailing" provision in MMP, as well as
reducing the Party threshold from 5% to 4%.

Justice Minister, Judith Collins - perhaps too busy with
trips to China and milk issues - refused to implement the
Electoral Commission's recommendations. She cited "lack of
consensus" from MPs.

Translated into plain english, Collins' reference to a "lack
of consensus" meant ACT and Peter Dunne opposed removing the
"coat tailing" provision because it would impact on a slim 
chance to bring additional MPs into Parliament on their
"coat tails".

John Key had the chance to remove this unpopular provision
from MMP and failed to do so for their own self interest.
Now the chooks have come home to roost for National.

-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

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References

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Latest TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll – Back To The Future IV?

28 February 2014 Leave a comment

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It was a shocker of a poll on Sunday evening (23 February); the TV1-Colmar Brunton poll had National soaring to stratospheric heights. At 51%, the Nats would hold around 62 seats in the House – sufficient to govern alone in a 120 seat Parliament.

The numbers;

National: 51%

Labour: 34%

Greens: 8%

NZ First: 3%

There is no figure given for Undecideds/Refused to Say, which kind of makes the stats a bit dodgy.  The Colmar Brunton website, however, does have a download facility to download the full report;

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colmar brunton Feb 2014 - undecideds

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The “Don’t Know/Refused to say” was a whopping 13%!

That’s a sizeable chunk of voters who could yet decide the election outcome.

But how credible is a polling figure of 51% for any political party?

The answer? Not very.

The highest Party Vote for any political party since the introduction of MMP in 1996, was 47.31%, achieved by National in the 2011 election.

So is 51% a credible indicator for National’s re-election chances?

Again, not very.

In a February 2011 TV1-Colmar Brunton poll, National stood at… 51%. In fact, the 2011 Poll is a remarkable mirror of the current Colmar results;

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National's popularity falls, but no party near it - Colmar Poll - feb 2011

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It’s almost as if Colmar Brunton has simply ‘dusted off’ the 2011 poll results; given Labour an extra one percentage point; and slapped a February 2014 label on it.

It is further worth noting that the actual election night result on Saturday 26 November 2011 was as follows;

National:  47.31%

Labour: 27.48%

Greens: 11.06%

NZ First: 6.59%

No other Party breached the 5% threshold.

At 34% current polling (by Colmar Brunton), this is still 6.52 percentage points above the 2011 election night results. Not a bad starting point to go into an election.

But 51% for National? Not in the realm of possibility. That is the polling they started from in February 2011 – and still they finished at 47.31%.

Let the campaigning continue.

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References

TVNZ:  National’s popularity falls, but no party near it – Colmar Poll

Colmar Brunton: ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll 15-19 February 2014

Colmar Brunton: ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll 15 – 19 February 2014 Report (Pdf)

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

TVNZ: Surge in support for National – poll

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Labour Mana Green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 10 February 2014

10 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 10 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (22′ 58″ )

  • John Key’s meeting with Tony Abbott
  • CER,  Aussie supermarkets boycotting NZ-made goods
  • migration to Australia
  • low wages, minimum wage
  • National Party, Keith Holyoake
  • paid parental leave, Working for Families, Colin Espiner
  • Waitangi Day, Foreshore & Seabed, deep sea oil drilling, Nga Puhi
  • MMP, “coat tailing”, Epsom, Conservative Party, ACT
  • Len Brown, Auckland rail link

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National Party spin on Aaron Gilmore and MMP

12 June 2013 1 comment

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Want a good reason for voting for MMP

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Something I’ve noticed in the last few days, as the Aaron Gilmore saga drags on, is the number of snide references being made to our electoral system, MMP (Mixed Member Proportional).

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"...what he's reflecting actually is the reality of MMP. Which whether we like it or not every party leader is powerless."

what he’s reflecting actually is the reality of MMP. Which whether we like it or not, every party leader is powerless.”John Key, 9 May 2013

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 As with the sacking from NZ First's caucus of list MP Brendan Horan, who continues to sit in the House and draw his generous salary and perks, that has underlined a key flaw in the rules for MMP. List MPs are in Parliament solely because of the positions allocated to them by their parties. If they are no longer acceptable to their parties at large, they should likewise be kicked out of Parliament.

As with the sacking from NZ First’s caucus of list MP Brendan Horan, who continues to sit in the House and draw his generous salary and perks, that has underlined a key flaw in the rules for MMP.
List MPs are in Parliament solely because of the positions allocated to them by their parties. If they are no longer acceptable to their parties at large, they should likewise be kicked out of Parliament.”Un-named author, 11 May 2013

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“It is absolutely the curse of MMP that you can’t get rid of an MP that doesn’t deserve to be there.”

“It is absolutely the curse of MMP that you can’t get rid of an MP that doesn’t deserve to be there.”Michelle Boag, May 2013

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The new meme is that the MMP system is somehow permitting Aaron Gilmore to remain in Parliament, and is vexing his Leader’s desire to remove him. The subtext is that MMP is severely ‘flawed’,  allowing errant members of Parliament to flout the ‘system’ and disregard the wishes of the public – and their Party leaders.

The corollary is that the previous system, First Past the Post (FPP) was somehow ‘superior’; tougher on wayward politicians, and allowed Party leaders to ditch them.

Both views are patently false.

As usual, watch out for politicians and their hangers-on – they speak with a forked tongue.

The reality is that pre-MMP, during our First Past the Post era, there were several members of Parliament who split away from their Parties (either National or Labour).

The Roll Call of Honour/Dis-Honour – depending on your point of view:

Matiu  Rata – resigned from Labour, 1979

Jim Anderton – resigned from Labour, April 1989

Gilbert Myles – resigned from National, late 1991

Hamish MacIntyre – resigned from National, late 1991

Cam Campion – resigned from National, March 1993

Winston Peters – resigned from National, early 1993*

Of the six MPs listed above, only Peters resigned from Parliament (as well as his Party), prompting a by-election on 17 April 1993. Rata prompted a by-election the following year, in June 1980.

Peters’ resignation was made of his own volition, as he sought a mandate from his Electorate after a public and very acrimonious split from the Bolger-led National Government of the day. (Indeed, Peters’ by-election was  dismissed  as a “stunt” by his opponants. I guess you can’t win either way.)

The remaining for MPs, Anderton; Myles; MacIntyre; and  Campion all remained as sitting Independent MPs until the following general election. Only Anderton and Peters were re-elected in subsequent elections.

All five MPs were electorate-based, and elected under FPP. In this respect, both MMP and FPP share a common feature; at no time could either Labour or National force their five ‘rogue’ MPs from Parliament.

This is a fact that Key, Boag, and the un-named author of the Dominion Post editorial should be fully aquainted with.

It appears to me is that by ‘dissing’ MMP, the conservative elements in politics (Key, Boag, and an obviously right-leaning anonymous  editorialist) are attempting to shift blame from their own short-comings  onto our electoral system. “Scape goating” is the appropriate term, I believe.

But worse than that – by smearing our electoral system, the Conservative Establishment is further undermining the public perception of democracy in New Zealand.  The apalling low voter turn-out in 2011 –  74.2% , the lowest turnout since 1887 – can only be exacerbated when those with a loud public voice ridicule and deride our electoral system.

The subtext here is; “our electoral system is crap; don’t bother using it; don’t vote; disengage”.

This, of course, suits the purposes of the Conservative Establishment. The less people who vote, the better for them. Their hope is that their own voter base will ignore the subliminal messaging and continue to cast their ballots on Election Day.

It is a sad day in our country when those with a strong public voice (political leaders, public figures, anonymous editorial writers, etc) use their positions to undermine democracy and further erode public participation, when instead they have a duty to promote a sense of  civic duty in our nation.

What’s the bet that come the next election, John Key, Michelle Boag, and the anonymous Dominion Post editorialist will all be voting?

Of course they will. They understand the power of the ballot.

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When you stop voting

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 May 2013.

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References

TVNZ:   Gilmore refuses to resign amid fresh allegations (9 May 2013)

Dominion Post: Editorial: Gilmore should accept it’s time to go  (11 May 2013)

National Business Review: Boag: how best to deal with Gilmore

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Citizen A – 14 February 2013

15 February 2013 Leave a comment

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– Citizen A –

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– 14 February 2013 –

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– Matthew Hooton & Keith Locke –

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Issue 1: Richard Prosser – is he racist? What are the ramifications for NZ First and does this reflect poorly on MMP?

Issue 2: Salvation Army gives the Government a D for child poverty, housing and employment – what is the Government doing?

and Issue 3 tonight: John Key’s decision to take Australia’s refugees – what do we get?

Citizen A broadcasts on Auckland UHF and will start transmitting on Sky TV on their new public service broadcasting channel ‘FACE Television’ February 7th February 2013.

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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John “I can’t recall” Banks, on MMP…

5 November 2012 10 comments

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The Electoral Commission’s final report on reviewing the MMP electoral system was tabled today in Parliament.

The four main changes to the system are,

  • Lowering the party threshold from 5% to 4%
  • Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold, which allows other MPs to enter Parliament on the “coat-tails” of a candidate who have won an Electorate Seat
  • Abolishing the provision for overhang seats
  • That Parliament consider fixing the percentage ratio of electorate to seats at 60:40

This blogger supported the first two options (neutral on the last two). Not because ACT could have gained extra MPs if Banks had won just a few thousand more Party List votes – but because the electorate seat threshold was being openly rorted by John Key and John Banks.

It is that rule which benefits small Parties – which while not crossing  the 5% (or 4%) threshold – can still gain extra MPs in Parliament. Because  an Electorate win gives that Party a “dispensation” from the 5%/4% Threshold.

The entire country witnessed the farce of the infamous  “cuppa tea” meeting, last year,  between Banks and Key at the Urban Cafe, in Epsom,

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It was an unedifying spectacle and public disquiet over the workings of MMP  threatened the very existence of proportional representation in New Zealand.

However, National-cum-ACT MP, John Banks, appears to have taken exception to the Electoral Commission’s  second option;  abolishing the one electorate seat threshold. Indeed, he was a very, very unhappy chappy.

Banks was reported today saying,

Voting systems benefit from infrequent change. Voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with.”

See: MMP review recommends lower party threshold

That’s interesting.

Banks is worried that making changes to an electoral system, despite over-whelming support through public submissions, somehow threatens public  “confidence in the electoral system “?!

That is a very noble sentiment.

In which case, one wonders how ACT could support the repeal of  “31 redundant acts of parliament and 206 unnecessary regulations“?!

See: ACT Policies – Economy

One would think that changing the law 31 times and removing 206 pieces of regulation might threaten public  “confidence in the Parliamentary law-making system “?!

Or, implement the following radical policies, from ACT’s on-line manifesto,

• Push the next government to reduce wasteful spending.  In 2005, Labour was spending 29 per cent of the national income.  Today, the same figure is 35 per cent.  ACT would push the next government to return spending to the level it was at in 2005 by repealing the “election bribe” spending of the past two elections with a view toward getting the top personal tax rate down to 25% and the company tax rate to 12.5%;

• Push the next government to lock in lower taxes by passing ACT’s Spending Cap Bill into law.  The Bill would require government spending to increase only by the level of inflation and population growth.  By reducing government spending and taxes, it would increase the rewards for wealth creation;
• Push the next government to pass ACT’s Regulatory Standards Bill.  The Bill would test all new regulations for unnecessary red tape, making it easier to do business;
• Sell state assets such as power generation companies; the overwhelming evidence is that such valuable assets produce more wealth when managed privately;
• Allow more mining when the economic benefits outweigh the environmental costs.

See: Ibid

It’s paradoxical that ACT supports a complete radical make-over of our social, legal, and economic systems – and thinks nothing of it.

But when the  Electoral Commission wants to implement a few changes to MMP,  old Banksie is suddenly worried that “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with“??’

But even stranger is this report, from AUT University’s publication, “Te Waha Nui”, last year,

But Banks himself would rather the MMP meal ticket be scrapped completely.

I favour the STV system (Single Transferable Vote),” Banks says.

He declined to explain what elements of the MMP system he disliked, or why he felt STV was a more attractive option. “

See: John Banks backs STV over MMP

So John Banks thinks making four amendments to MMP will damage voter “confidence in the electoral system” . But changing from MMP to STV – two radically different electoral systems – is perfectly ok?

Cutting to the chase.

This has nothing to do with damaging voter “confidence in the electoral system“.

We all know this.

John Banks’ only concerns in this matter is John Banks. Or more to the point, getting John Banks back into Parliament in 2012, preferably with a couple of extra ACT cronies.

Banks knows that the “coat tailing” effect of the Electoral Threshold  is the reason for Epsom voters to support him. Vote for Banks and as long as ACT’s Party Vote is over 1.2%, you get two ACT MPs for the price of one.

But take away the Electorate threshold and the “coat tail” effect, and voting for Banks gets you – one ACT MP; John Banks. Unless ACT reaches the new 4% Party threashold (about as likely as me spontaneously combusting), ACT get’s no extra MPs.

In which case there is no point in any more cosy “arrangements”  between ACT and National, and Epsom voters will simply drop back to their default-setting to voting for their own National Party candidate.

Banks would have to win Epsom on his own ‘merits’. *cough, cough*

Fat chance.

Epsomites have had a gutsful of this mendacious, memory-challenged, clown, and want to see the back of him as much as the rest of the country.

We all know that Banks is utterly self-serving when it comes to politics.

Does he have to keep proving it to us with bare-faced lies about “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with “?”

We know he’s lying.

Stop reminding us.

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Previous related blogposts

Some thoughts on MMP (13 December 2011)

John Banks: condition deteriorating (14 August 2012)

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