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Barnaby Joyce defends leaked texts amid France and Australia’s submarines row



Barnaby Joyce has launched an extraordinary defence of the decision to leak text messages between Scott Morrison and the French president.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has leapt to defend Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the diplomatic row between Australia and France over the axed submarines deal escalates.

Text messages between the two world leaders were sensationally leaked to the media on Monday night in an attempt to discredit French President Emmanuel Macron’s position after he accused Mr Morrison of lying.

Mr Joyce on Wednesday claimed that leaking text messages from a foreign leader was “not as extraordinary” as calling another foreign leader “a liar when they’re not”.

“We had a major political leader call the Prime Minister of Australia a liar and you can’t do that, diplomatically,” he told the ABC.

“You can’t go around calling other leaders of other countries a liar.

“Not (the leader of) a great nation of France. Some tin pot nation in the middle of nowhere, well, I suppose you can say what you like.”

Mr Joyce said the government had been looking at “contingency plans” well before the $90bn submarine contract with France was scrapped in favour of a pact with the US and the UK.

Mr Macron told Australian reporters at a summit in Rome at the weekend that he “knew” Mr Morrison had lied to him over the severing of the contract.

Mr Morrison subsequently denied his account. But just hours later, the text messages emerged, which are believed to have been strategically released to outlets via his office.

French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault earlier on Wednesday accused Mr Morrison of stabbing Paris in the back.

In a major speech to the National Press Club, Mr Thebault said the relationship between the two countries had sunk to a “new low”.

“The deceit was intentional,” Mr Thebault said earlier, as he unloaded on the Prime Minister in a room full of reporters.

“The way it was handled was plainly a stab in the back.

“What, after such events, can any partner of Australia now think, is the value of Australia’s signature?”

Asked if he believed the Prime Minister was “lying about lying”, Mr Thebault replied: “Yes, he was … I have several examples”.

“Maybe there’s a difference between misleading and lying.

“But, you know, among heads of states and governments, when you mislead a friend and an ally, you lie to him.”

He added the release of the text messages signalled Australia could not be trusted.

“You don’t behave like this on personal exchanges of leaders. Doing so also sends a very worrying signal for all heads of state,” the French ambassador said.

“Beware, in Australia there will be leaks. And what you say in confidence to your partners will be eventually used and weaponised against you one day.”

But in a press conference following the ambassador’s speech, Mr Morrison expressed his desire to end the spat, which has dominated headlines over the past week.

“Claims had been made and those claims were refuted,” he said during a stopover in Dubai.

“I don’t think there’s any further profit for anyone in continuing down this path.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Macron raised doubts over whether the AUKUS agreement would even deliver the proposed nuclear powered submarines in a timely manner: “Good luck”.

Echoing his comments, the French ambassador accused Australia of “magical thinking”.

Mr Thebault’s address is the first time he has publicly spoken since being recalled as ambassador following the announcement of the AUKUS agreement.

While he promised France would always stand with Australia, he cautioned against the government using “cheap words and promises of love”.

“We won’t any more buy on cheap words. We won’t buy on promises of love.

“At the same time … this is a golden opportunity. We can rebuild something substantial. But we start from very far away.”

But should Mr Morrison apologise? The ambassador sidestepped the question.

“Eating one share of humble pie may sometimes be difficult. It’s up to everyone to make his own decision,” he said.

Asked if he would follow the ambassador’s advice, Mr Morrison said he would never offer an apology to France for tearing up the agreement.

“Australia made the decision not to go ahead with the contract for a submarine that was not going to do the job that Australia needed to do.

“I’ll never make any apologies for that decision.”

Originally published as ‘Tinpot nation’: Barnaby Joyce defends leaked text messages over France subs row

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NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole says he will oppose Hawkins and Rumker coalmining proposal



The NSW Deputy Premier says he will oppose a coalmining project in a ‘beautiful’ area of NSW that lies next to a national park.

The NSW Deputy Premier says he will move to stop a controversial coal project near Wollemi National Park.

Paul Toole told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday that he would propose to the cabinet that the coal exploration project in the Hawkins and Rumker areas should be ruled out.

“It is my intention to take this proposal to my colleagues, and it is my intention to actually rule it out,” Mr Toole said.

The 3000-hectare area of land, just north of Mr Toole’s electorate of Bathurst, has been earmarked for potential exploration, but some locals have argued against the plan.

A report by consultancy firm EarthScapes that was commissioned by anti-mining lobby group Lock the Gate showed there were dozens of Aboriginal heritage sites nearby.

The report said the Hawkins and Rumker areas, and nearby Ganguddy-Kelgoola, had no less than 45 recorded heritage sites between them.

The consultants also said 22 threatened animal species and six threatened plant species would be at risk.

Mr Toole said he was not convinced the project would be commercially viable and “social issues” were also at play.

“It is a beautiful area,” he said.

“And there are commercial issues around its viability, but there’s also social issues that have been identified as well.

“And I think it makes it very clear for me to actually say to my department that when we put the report going up to my colleagues, it will be actually indicating that we rule it out.”

Greens upper house MP Cate Faehrmann, who used her time at budget estimates to ask Mr Toole about his position on the project, said afterwards the Deputy Premier’s announcement was “wonderful news”.

“I am now calling on the NSW government to protect this culturally rich and environmentally significant area by adding it to the national parks estate,” she said.

“This area was originally left out of Wollemi National Park because of its potential for coal exploration.

“Opening it up now would have devastated the local community and the Dabee Wiradjuri people and put 7000 hectares of threatened ecological communities, countless Aboriginal heritage sites and our climate at risk.”

She also said the government should rule out coal and gas projects in Ganguddy-Kelgoola as well.

Originally published as NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole says he will oppose Hawkins and Rumker coalmining proposal




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Cop26, G20: Scott Morrison not a liar, former finance minister Mathias Cormann says



A former colleague of Scott Morrison has rushed to his defence amid claims he has a reputation as a liar.

Scott Morrison’s reputation has again been called into question by predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, but a former colleague has trashed claims the Prime Minister has a track record of lying.

On the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Mr Turnbull said he had no doubt French President Emmanuel Macron had been deceived over the $90bn submarine deal.

He claimed he had experienced similar from Mr Morrison during his time in the top job.

“Oh, he’s lied to me on many occasions,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.

“Scott has always had a reputation for telling lies.”

But Mathias Cormann, who served as finance minister under both Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull, has categorically rejected the latter’s stinging character assessment.

Asked if Mr Morrison had a track record of telling lies, the OECD secretary-general said: “No.”

“I had a very good working relationship with Scott Morrison. I had a good working relationship with Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott as prime minister,” Mr Cormann told ABC Radio National on Wednesday morning.

“I’ve always done my best to serve them to my best ability, and the opportunity to catch up with Scott at the G20, also at Cop26 … we had some very, very good conversations about the challenges ahead.”

The former prime minister’s comments echo those made by Mr Macron, who on Monday told reporters he “knew” he had been lied to by Mr Morrison.

Later, text messages between the two leaders that seemingly discredited Mr Macron’s versions of events were leaked to the media.

Key crossbench senator Rex Patrick told 2GB on Wednesday morning that Mr Morrison’s behaviour harmed Australia’s reputation on the world stage.

He added while Australia was right to walk away from the conventional submarine deal with France, the way it was handled left much to be desired.

“I absolutely supported the decision to withdraw from the French contract,” he said.

“But in this instance, I’m not convinced that we exited this program in a manner which was proper and in a manner which was fair to the French.

Originally published as Scott Morrison not a liar, former finance minister Mathias Cormann says

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Scott Morrison branded a gaslighter over leaked Macron texts



Scott Morrison has been accused of gaslighting a world leader as the diplomatic fallout over a cancelled submarine deal rages on.

Scott Morrison has been accused of gaslighting Emmanuel Macron, in a stinging attack from opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

Text messages between the French President and Mr Morrison on Monday were sensationally leaked on Monday evening, ratcheting up the tensions between the two leaders.

Mr Albanese said it was an “extraordinary step” for the Prime Minister to take.

“The attempted damage control by selectively leaking private text messages is quite an extraordinary step for an Australian Prime Minister to take,” Mr Albanese said.

“Leaders of countries and indeed people in their everyday life need to be able to engage in a professional way.

“And the leaking of this selected text message isn’t the first time that we’ve seen that occur from this Prime Minister.”

The strategically released messages sought to discredit Mr Macron’s version of events as the fracas over a cancelled $90bn submarine contract rages on.

Asked on Monday by Australian reporters if Mr Morrison had lied to the French President, Mr Macron said, “I don’t think. I know.”

But less than 24 hours later, private text messages between the two world leaders were made public.

In the messages, Mr Macron is reported to have asked Mr Morrison if he should expect “good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions” ahead of the AUKUS agreement announcement.

Quizzed about the text disclosure later, Mr Morrison did not deny they were leaked.

“I am not going to indulge your editorial on it,” he said in Glasgow.

“What I will simply say is this. We were contacted when we were trying to set up the call. (The French President) made it pretty clear he was concerned that this would be a phone call that could result in a decision by Australia not to proceed.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Morrison claimed he had informed Mr Macron the conventional submarines being provided by France would not meet Australia’s national interest.

He later added he would not accept questioning of “Australia’s integrity”.

“I must say that I think the statements that were made questioning Australia’s integrity and the slurs that have been placed on Australia, not me, I’ve got broad shoulders,” Mr Morrison said.

“I can deal with that. But those slurs, I’m not going to cop sledging at Australia. I’m not going to cop that on behalf of Australians.”

His inference that France has slurred Australians in Mr Macron’s critique was a sticking point for Mr Albanese.

“Pretending also, the personal criticism of him is criticism of Australia, is using our nation as a human shield,” he added.

“Scott Morrison isn‘t the first leader to see himself as synonymous with his nation … Well, the news for Scott Morrison is he isn’t the state of Australia.”

Originally published as Scott Morrison branded a gaslighter over leaked Macron texts

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Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26



After a series of frosty encounters at the G20 summit in Rome, Scott Morrison has finally found a mate at Cop26.

Scott Morrison has been thanked for being a “dear friend” to India on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning took to Twitter to declare there is never “a dull moment” when he’s with his friend Mr Morrison.

It came just hours after he praised the Australian medical regulator’s decision to recognise India’s locally produced Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin.

Mr Morrison later tweeted it was “wonderful” to see his friend at Cop26.

As the G20 leaders’ summit kicked off last week, Australia and India were joined only by China to resist a global bid to phase out coal-fired power and mining.

In his address to the Cop26 summit, Mr Modi committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2070 – two decades later than the rest of the world.

The announcement falls short of a key goal of the climate summit, which is for nations to agree to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US and the EU.

It is the fifth largest export market for Australian coal, and imports into the country have risen off the back of Australian trade woes with China.

Mr Modi also promised his nation would transition to generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

The Indian leader made the most of his time at the UN leaders’ summit, whizzing around to meet with several of his international counterparts.

Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister was pictured with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.

He thanked the royal for his commitment to sustainable development and climate change.

Originally published as Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

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Malcolm Turnbull says Scott Morrison’s ‘duplicity’ was ‘shameful’ over French subs deal



Malcolm Turnbull says his successor should have had an ‘honest and open’ conversation about Australia’s nuclear future before breaking decades of diplomatic trust.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed Scott Morrison for his “sneaky, “shameful” and “duplicitous” behaviour that has strained Australia’s diplomatic relationship with France.

Speaking from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison “should apologise” for “double dealing” the French over the submarine deal.

Mr Turnbull’s comments come after a day of back-and-forth between Mr Morrison and French President Emmanuel Macron, who accused Mr Morrison of lying about dumping their $90bn submarine contract in favour of a nuclear powered pact with the US and the UK.

Less than 24 hours after the public accusation, private text messages, presumably leaked from the Prime Minister’s Office, emerged, essentially undermining Mr Macron’s statement.

Speaking from Glasgow, Mr Morrison said he “would not cop a sledging” from Mr Macron and he had tried to set up a call with him before the AUKUS announcement in September that led to the diplomatic fallout.

“(Mr Macron) made it pretty clear he was concerned that this would be a phone call that could result in a decision by Australia not to proceed,” Mr Morrison said from Glasgow.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison should cease hitting back and apologise.

“Firstly, because he did very elaborately and duplicitously deceive France,” he said.

“We had a relationship of the deepest trust and confidence with France – the French shared with us some of their most secret technology on submarines. It was a partnership between two nations as a cornerstone of France-Indo-Pacific strategy and to be double dealing with them the way Morrison did was shameful.

“I mean (US President) Joe Biden has acknowledged that.

“Morrison’s conduct has done enormous damage.”

Mr Morrison told reporters in Glasgow that during dinner in June with Mr Macron he had clearly told the French President that conventional submarines would no longer meet Australia’s strategic interests and any decision to transition to nuclear-powered ships would be in Australia’s national interests.

“The (French) submarine contract was a significant investment decision taken five years ago. At that point … the attack class submarine was the right decision,” Mr Morrison said from Glasgow.

“But there have been significant changes which have completely changed the game.”

Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison should have dealt with Mr Macron “honestly” instead of “dropping hints”.

“What we should have done, and nuclear propulsion for submarines has always been an option for us … but what we should have done was had an honest and open conversation,” Mr Turnbull said.

“An honest person would have sat down with France, brought in the Americans … and said ‘look, we think we should move to nuclear propulsion’.

“The French submarine that we were working on was actually designed as a nuclear submarine and it was Australia’s request that it had conventional diesel electric propulsion.

“All Scott needed to do was to be honest and open, and that’s exactly what Biden has criticised him for because there wasn’t consultation.

“ If we had had an honest and open conversation, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. This is all the product of Scott’s duplicity.”

Originally published as Malcolm Turnbull says Scott Morrison’s ‘duplicity’ was ‘shameful’ over French subs deal

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Scott Morrison addresses Emmanuel Macron nuclear submarines deal fallout at COP26



Scott Morrison has issued a blistering response after French President Emmanuel Macron accused him of lying.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sensationally rebuked Emmanuel Macron after the French president called him a liar.

Mr Morrison told reporters in Glasgow on Monday night that he made no apology for his decision to abandon a $90 billion submarine contract with France.

Mr Macron had accused Mr Morrison of lying by not revealing that Australia had been in talks with the UK and US over the acquisition of nuclear submarines.

Mr Macron made the extraordinary comment to Australian reporters at the G20 summit in Rome, after weeks of escalating diplomatic tensions between France and Australia.

“I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistent with this value,” he said.

When asked if he thought Mr Morrison had lied to him, he said: “I don’t think, I know”.

In response, Mr Morrison said he did not wish to “personalise the spat” but would not accept “statements questioning Australia’s integrity”.

“I’m not going to cop sledging on Australia,” he told reporters.

He said the conventional diesel submarines that would have been built under the deal with France would not have met Australia’s strategic needs.

“I have to put Australia’s interests before any interests that involved potentially offending others,” he said.

“The (French) submarine contract was a significant investment decision taken five years ago. At that point, given the strategic circumstance, time and technology available to Australia the attack class submarine was the right decision.

“But there have been significant changes that have occurred in our strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific, which completely changed the game.”

Mr Morrison laid out a timeline about when Australia pulled out of the deal.

The Prime Minister provided a blow-by-blow of when he raised concerns, touching on when he raised issues with the French contract, including significant delays.

Mr Morrison said he acted to abandon the deal in Australia’s national interests, and Mr Macron was given some advance warning the French deal was not working.

He said French officials had attempted to appease Australia’s concerns, without success.

Both leaders have been at the G20 summit and are now in Glasgow for the COP26 Climate Change conference.

More to come

Originally published as Morrison says ‘I won’t cop sledging on Australia’ amid nuclear subs fallout

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‘Scott no friends’: Scott Morrison mocked for G20 photo



We’ve all experienced an awkward moment before a family photo, but Scott Morrison’s was broadcast live around the world.

The Prime Minister has been mocked for being a “Scott no friends” after an awkward moment at the G20 which even saw him snubbed by an old friend.

After a frosty phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on the way to the leaders’ summit, Scott Morrison was left without a friend to chat to during the “family photo”.

West Australian MP Patrick Gorman took to Twitter on Monday to make hay of the matter at the Prime Minister’s expense.

Speaking with NCA Newswire, the Labor MP said Mr Morrison has form when it comes to political photo ops.

“It is hard to see someone go through their awkward teenage phase in the middle of the G20,” Mr Gorman said.

“In a week’s time, Scott Morrison will get a poll telling him this was funny and he will laugh at it, too.

“World leaders saw what happened last time he hugged Malcolm Turnbull, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump.”

In video from the meeting, it appeared several world leaders snubbed Mr Morrison as he approached them as they gathered in front of cameras.

Walking onto the podium, the Prime Minister was given the cold shoulder by Rwanda President Paul Kagame and South Korea President Moon Jae-In, who did not seem receptive to a three-way handshake.

Mr Morrison then approached old friend and long-time parliamentary ally Mathias Cormann, who should have been a sure bet for a chat.

But his former finance minister looked to his feet before turning away from the Prime Minister, before the two could exchange pleasantries.

The interaction was made all the more awkward because Mr Morrison strongly supported and campaigned for Mr Cormann to become secretary-general of the OECD.

To add to Mr Morrison’s woes, US President Joe Biden and Mr Macron could be seen enthusiastically chatting before the picture.

It’s not the first time Mr Morrison has had an awkward encounter on the world stage.

At the G7 summit in Biarritz, Mr Morrison was left out in the cold, looking down at his phone, while other leaders chatted happily away while getting in formation for the photo.

But there is still a chance for the Prime Minister to redeem himself with his peers, as the UN climate summit gets underway in Glasgow this week.

He’ll be hoping Australia’s net zero commitment will be enough to convince his stately colleagues he is serious about tackling climate change, but only time will tell.

Originally published as ‘Scott no friends’: ScoMo mocked for awkward G20 photo

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Bert Newton: Victorian state funeral planned for television legend



A state funeral is being planned in Victoria for television icon Bert Newton, who died aged 83 following an illness.

Television icon Bert Newton, who died aged 83 following an illness, will be honoured with a state funeral in Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews described Newton as a “larrikin and a born entertainer”, noting Australians had never known television without him.

“He was there from the beginning. From black and white to colour – as TV changed, Bert endured,” Mr Andrews said.

“He lived his life on the silver screen — and we welcomed his wit and humour into our homes.

“We will all have an opportunity to honour his memory, his talent and his achievements at a state funeral.”

Details of the state funeral will be shared later, but according to entertainment journalist Peter Ford it will likely be held at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

Mr Andrews acknowledged Newton’s “legendary partnerships” with fellow television icons Graham Kennedy and Don Lane.

“For so many, those partnerships are as inseparable as they are memorable,” the Premier said.

While Newton “brought the Logies to life during TV’s golden era”, Mr Andrews said he was also a star on radio and stage, including performances in Phantom of the Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“But above all his achievements, he was a family man and his greatest partnership was with his wife of almost 50 years, Patti,” the Premier said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her, their children and their grandchildren.

“Bert will live on in the memories of an entire generation. Gone but never forgotten.”

Affectionately known as Moonface, Newton had been in palliative care at a private clinic in Melbourne after having his leg amputated earlier this year due to a life-threatening infection.

Tributes have flowed for the beloved entertainer, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying there would never be another person like him.

“Bert came into our homes and made himself very welcome. He was a regular guest and we always looked forward to his next visit,” Mr Morrison said.

“Four Gold Logies, hosting the Logies on 20 occasions and entertaining Australians for over half a century.

“There was a familiarity that connected us to Bert, but it also connected us to each other. We could laugh together. That was his gift.”

Former Wheel of Fortune host John Burgess said on social media: “I had the absolute honour of sharing a stage on occasion with Bert and was able to step back and watch a star at work. The void he leaves behind is immeasurable.”

Comedian and television host Rove McManus wrote: “I don’t know that I’m ready to accept this yet. Today I lost a mentor and friend, our country lost an icon, but most importantly a family has lost their hero and soulmate.

“Sending love to all the Newtons, especially Patti. My heart is broken. Rest In Power, Albert Watson Newton.”

Newton is survived by his wife Patti, his two children Lauren and Matthew, and extended family.

Originally published as State funeral planned for television legend Bert Newton who died aged 83




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Rome G20: Morrison briefly greets French President Emmanuel Macron amid submarine feud



Scott Morrison has revealed what he said to the French President when he ran into him in Rome – in the leaders’ first encounter since a “clumsy” action by the PM.

Scott Morrison has said “g’day” to Emmanuel Macron during their first face-to-face encounter since Australia tore up a French submarine deal.

The Prime Minister again defended his government’s decision to abandon the French submarine contract despite US President Joe Biden describing its handling as “clumsy”.

Mr Morrison briefly greeted the French president at the G20 Summit in Rome but the two leaders will not have a bilateral meeting as tensions between the two continues to simmer.

Last month, Australia, the US and the United Kingdom formed a new partnership – AUKUS – which meant Canberra would scrap its $90b submarine deal with Paris in favour of nuclear technologies made available by London and Washington.

France was blindsided by the deal having been advised on the eve of the AUKUS announcement and, as a result, ambassadors were pulled from Canberra and Washington.

Mr Biden ridiculed the handling of the deal in a meeting with the French President in Italy, admitting it “was not done with a lot of grace”.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through,” he said.

“I honest to God did not know you had not been.”

But Mr Morrison defended his government’s diplomatic process and insisted the United States were involved in the strategic handling.

“Australia made the right decision in on our interests to ensure we have the right submarine capability to deal with our strategic interests,” he told reporters in Rome.

“There was never an easy way for us, I think, to get to a point where we had to disappoint a good friend and partner in France that we wouldn’t be proceeding with that contract.

“It was always a difficult decision for Australia, it was the right decision for Australia — we worked closely with the United States and the United Kingdom and we kept them up to date.”

The Prime Minister said he didn’t request a bilateral meeting with the French President at the summit given the tension and wanting to respect Mr Macron’s frustrations though the two briefly greeted during an event in Rome.

“I said g‘day,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Rome.

“He was having a chat to someone, I went up and just put my arm on his shoulder and just said ‘g’day, Emmanuel,’ and ‘look forward to catching up over the next couple of days.’

“That’s the way these events tend to work and he was happy to exchange those greetings.”

Originally published as Rome G20: Morrison briefly greets French President Emmanuel Macron amid submarine feud

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