Rates bills on hold, but residents still angry

29/06/2018 // by admin

Local business owner David Hitchcock says he’ll continue to fight backdated rates invoices from Queanbeyan Council. Meanwhile, Council is seeking to invite the NSW Local Government minister to find a resolution to the situation.A COUNCIL move to recoup $3.7 million in backdated rates charges as been put on a temporary hold while Council seeks advice from the NSW Local Government minister as to whether the invoices can be quashed.
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However local State MP John Barilaro has warned the NSW Government may not be able to fix what he said was Council’s problem.

Councillors held a workshop on Wednesday night to review their legal advice following widespread anger from many of the 860 affected ratepayers.

Mayor Tim Overall said he’d now convene an extraordinary meeting of Council next Wednesday night to address the issue, and move a motion to approach the minister and seek a resolution to the crisis.

“At this meeting, a Mayoral Minute will be tabled and it will include a recommendation that Council approach the Minister for Local Government to resolve the matter,” Cr Overall said.

“The recommendation will also seek to put the 31 August payment deadline on hold until such time as advice is received from the Minister and that all affected property owners be formally advised accordingly.

“We are not expecting this matter to be solved overnight, and it may take two to three months to get a solution. During that time, all supplementary rates notices are on hold until further advice is received. It will not affect the normal annual rate payment cycle,” he said.

Local member John Barilaro welcomed Council’s attempt to abandon the unpopular invoices, but said there were no guarantees the NSW Government could fix the situation.

“Queanbeyan City Council has rowed up the creek and now it’s my job to find them a paddle,” he said.

“Whilst seeking the Minister’s advice is a sensible approach, there are no guarantees that the NSW Government alone can resolve Council’s problem.

“It is worth remembering that this unsatisfactory situation could have been averted had council elected to wear the cost of its mistake in the first place and refrained from re-issuing the rates notices,” he said.

Meanwhile, Silva Avenue auto and boat mechanic David Hitchcock says he still can’t believe the invoices – in his case a bill for nearly $11,000- were issued in the first place.

Council development regulations required the local mechanic to upgrade his 25mm water metre to a 40mm commercial metre when he built his workshop in 2004, despite the fact he has only one toilet and one sink in the building and say he uses “next to no water” at the site. However he said he had a verbal agreement with Council staff at the time of building that he’d continue to be charged the 25mm water access rate while he owned the site due to the low water use of his business.

“That agreement was honoured for 10 years and I was charged the 25mm rate, until I got this bill for 40mm water access backdated five years,” he said.

“That’s despite the fact there’s nothing in the building that uses a 40mm pipe.”

However a Council spokesman said any record of an agreement would have been documented on its records management system, and no such record existed.

“A number of properties in the industrial areas of Queanbeyan have been charged for a 25mm water and sewer connection, despite actually having a 40mm connection. This is why supplementary charges have been raised,” the spokesperson said.

“Council’s Development Design Specification D11 states that all industrial properties must have a minimum 40mm water and sewer connection. This is also stated in the notice of determination that is issued with approved development applications.”

Mr Hitchcock said he’d seek to fight the charges, and would continue to work with an informal ratepayers group seeking to overturn the backdated charges. The group held their second meeting at John Bull St business owner Lisa Robinson’s shopfront last night, and member Kim Morris told The Queanbeyan Age the group would continue to investigate options to challenge the invoices.

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Community groups fear retaliatory funding cuts for comments critical of Coalition policy, warns ACOSS

29/06/2018 // by admin

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been called on to pledge not to strip funding from community groups if they express views critical of the Coalition.
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The advocacy role of civil society is being threatened under the Abbott government, the head of the Australian Council of Social Service Cassandra Goldie has warned, urging her colleagues in the community sector to speak out without fear in a speech at a conference in Canberra on Thursday.

Dr Goldie told Fairfax Media that there had been a “number of disturbing examples of where the government has pulled out of its support for very important civil society organisations”.

This includes the Refugee Council, which lost more than half a million dollars in May, after Immigration Minister Scott Morrison intervened to cut its funding.

At the time, Mr Morrison said it was not his view or the government’s view that taxpayer funding should be used for advocacy.

“There is freedom of speech but the taxpayer shouldn’t have to fund the microphone.”

Dr Goldie is also concerned by a recent government clampdown on community legal centres, preventing them from spending Commonwealth funds on advocacy or law reform work.

“This is sending a message that if you speak up, if you have a voice on the issues of the day then you have a risk of having your funding cut,” she said.

The ACOSS head said she was encouraged by a pledge from Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews in June that the government would not impose gag clauses on welfare groups in receipt of government funds.

Despite this pledge, Dr Goldie said greater reassurances were required in light of Mr Morrison’s comments and the changes around community legal centres, which come under Attorney-General George Brandis’ portfolio.

“We are inviting the Prime Minister to confirm that the view expressed by Minister Andrews is the view of the government as a whole,” Dr Goldie said.

She added that community groups needed to recognise their “role and responsibility” to be “ethical voices from the community” and to not only be critical of government policy but to also provide alternatives.

“I think it’s very important that we continue to claim the expertise that we clearly have and to not allow a climate of uncertainty to rattle the cage,” she said.

Labor spokeswoman for communities, Claire Moore said that she was hearing organisations were “already too scared to speak out on behalf of their clients and angry that their advocacy is being dismissed”.

“The Coalition’s rhetoric is all about the need to strengthen civil society and yet the Abbott government wants to shut it up,” Senator Moore said.  “All governments may not like criticism but there seems to be a vindictiveness from this government, which misunderstands the nature of advocacy.”

Fairfax Media has asked Mr Abbott’s office for comment.

Dr Goldie’s comments come as the government’s review into the welfare system prepares to receive public submissions on its draft report on Friday. Among other controversial interim recommendations, the report suggested that only those with a permanent impairment and no capacity to work should receive the disability support pension.

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Katherine to roll out plastic wine bottles

29/06/2018 // by admin

THE first sales of wine in plastic bottles will begin in Katherine within three weeks as the town attempts to combat the growing issue of broken glass littering its public areas.
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The Katherine Liquor Accord has announced that it received unanimous support from members at a meeting on August 7 to purchasewine in plastic bottles at the “earliest possible convenience”.

The meeting was in response to a letter sent to Minister for Alcohol Policy David Tollner by Katherine Town Council last week that called for action to be taken on the issue.

In the letter, Mayor Fay Miller slammed the Northern Territory government and said it had been “negligent” by allowing individual regions to come up with solutions to problems caused by alcohol abuse.

PLASTIC PUSH: The Katherine Liquor Accord says low-alcohol wine in plastic bottles will begin to be sold “in approximately three weeks’ time”.

While independent alcohol retailers in Katherine have put their weight behind the push for plastic wine bottles, it remains to be seen whether or not supermarket giant Woolworths, which owns the town’s BWS outlet, will follow suit.

The wine will have an alcohol content lower than that of the traditional product but will not be officiallyclassified aslow-alcohol.

In a statement, the liquor accord said “the first sales of this productin plastic will be available in Katherine in approximately three weeks’ time”.

More to come.

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Muslim groups slam Abbott government’snew counter-terror plans

29/06/2018 // by admin

Muslim groups warn the government’s proposed counter-terror laws will impinge on the rights and freedoms of all Australians but “especially those of Muslim faith”. Photo: Andrew MearesBrandis cancels appearance at free speech forum
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hope for a united “Team Australia” approach to proposed new terror laws has hit a hurdle with a Muslim group describing them as “more destructive” than the now abandoned changes to the race-hate laws.

On Tuesday the government backed down on its plans to repeal a section of the Racial Discrimination Act which makes it illegal to offend or insult someone on the basis of their ethnicity.

The law was used to successfully prosecute News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt and Mr Abbott pledged to repeal the laws if elected. But the Prime Minister while announcing new counter-terror laws this week said that the debate over Section 18C had become a “complication” in maintaining national unity.

He said he was “determined” to engage in “even closer consultation” with communities and singled out the Australian Muslim community on the counter-terror changes.

But the Lebanese Muslim Association has described them as “deplorable” and vowed to fight them because they are “widely perceived to target Muslims”.

The organisation has described as “deplorable” the government’s plans to “soften the definition of terrorism”, retain internet and phone data, make it easier to detain and question suspects returning from overseas, and reversing the onus of proof for people returning from terror hot-spots.

“These measures will only force the Muslim community further offside [and] will cause relations with the Australian Muslim community to deteriorate significantly,” the association said in a statement.

The Australian National Imans Council has joined the criticism and says it believes the proposed changes will “severely impinge” on the rights and freedoms of all Australians but “especially those of Muslim faith”.

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Ratepayers face increase

29/06/2018 // by admin

GUNNEDAH Shire ratepayers have received their latest rate notices – with an overall increase of 8.5 per cent.
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The rise is the second in four years’ worth of increases approved last year by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) which will see an overall increase of 26.7 per cent by 2016-17.

The council applied for increases of between 4.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent above the pegged rate increase amount of 3.4 per cent a year.

The council applied for the increases to “improve financial sustainability and fund debt associated with the capital works program”.

IPART said in June last year the move would lead to increases of between $118 and $238 by 2016-17.

“Including the rate peg amount, we estimate that the average residential rate is likely to rise from $660 in 2012-13, to $880 in 2016-17,” IPART’s chairman Dr Peter Boxall said.

Council’s general manager Eric Groth said the extra revenue was necessary to ensure the community’s strategic plan – including infrastructure works identified by the community – could be carried out.

“There is no project in the operational plan that I am aware of that is not on target,” Mr Groth said.

In council’s operational plan adopted in June this year, the message from the general manager said since the rates variation began, council had maintained “the high level of service delivery that residents have told us they want and expect”.

“Major road renewal upgrades, better footpaths and cycle ways as well as new playgrounds are just some of the many improvements already achieved,” Mr Groth said in the message.

“The upcoming financial year will see a number of major projects being commenced that will provide significant benefits for our community.

“The renewal and upgrade of the Gunnedah Memorial Pool Complex and the Blackjack Creek Flood Mitigation Program are two multi-million dollar projects that will deliver considerable amenity improvement for our community.”

IPART said in its approval that the rates increase would mean an extra $5.8 million for council to be used to improve its financial position and fund loans to address renewals and upgrades of roads, plant, swimming pool, kerb and guttering and public buildings.

Mr Groth said despite last year’s increase, the council received only one application for a payment arrangement to be made because of hardship circumstances.

“There has been one case, and I can genuinely say I haven’t heard a lot of comment about rates,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we are talking about the cost of less than a cup of coffee per week on average rates.”

Mayor Owen Hasler said the council had also met its savings target of just over $430,000 a year as identified in the review report by Blackadder and Associates.

Councillor David Quince, who voted against the rates increase last year, said this week he believed the mining industry should be bearing more of the cost.

“You would have to be Blind Freddy to drive into the main street of Gunnedah and not see that 20-30 per cent of the vehicles that are there are mining-related,” Cr Quince said.

“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, what I am saying is let them carry their fair share of the weight.”

He said Gunnedah farmers had “endured 12 years of very bad seasons and plunging commodity prices” and should not be facing ever-increasing rates.

The council has said Gunnedah Shire properties have been revalued and the new land values had been used to calculate rates this year.

Council has urged ratepayers to check their rates and charges notice and contact council’s customer service team with inquiries on 6740 2100 or email [email protected]南京夜网.au

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NSW honours

29/06/2018 // by admin

Jarrad Forlonge will again compete for the NSW Development side at the National Youth Championships in September.Having starred for the NSW Development touch football side in last year’s National Youth Championships, it is no surprise Jarrad Forlonge recently earned his place on the team again.
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Competing against 40 of the best touch footballers from regional NSW, Forlonge had to prove himself again during a rigorous selection process in Sydney.

“There were a lot of games and different things to test out your ability compared to everyone else’s, it was fairly drawn out it was a long day,” he said.

Forlonge was impressed with the standard shown in Penrith.

“Yeah it was really high because a lot of the guys trialling don’t go to school anymore so they can’t get picked in the school system but are still eligible with their age.”

Last year, the NSW Development side finished 10th overall but Forlonge expects huge improvement when they head up to Caloundra later this year.

“I think we will. Going into that carnival last year, it was like we were going up there as the fourth NSW team we were more focussed on bonding and becoming a group out of it than getting results but then we went half good without thinking we would. So I think this year there’s going to be a bigger emphasis on trying to go well because we actually proved to ourselves last year that we could compete.”

A lot of responsibility will rest on Forlonge as one of the returning players from last year.

“Yeah I think five of us made it through again from last year’s team but yeah I’ll try and take on a leadershiprole in the team,” he said.

“You sort of do it without even realising you’re doing it. You’ve been there before so you know what you’redoing and it just comes naturally.”

As a Yass Roos player, if the Aussie rules team makes the grand final, Forlonge will be flying up to Queenslandthe next morning.

“It could be a rough flight,” he laughed.

“It’s certainly not going to stop me celebrating if we win it.”

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Trainer Kris Lees is pumped for a busy spring on several fronts

29/06/2018 // by admin

Kris Lees. Photo: Simone De PeakIt will be Newcastle to Newmarket and back to Newcastle to start next month for trainer Kris Lees.
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The provincial trainer is laying down plans for a spring that could finish with a trip to Hong Kong, but he remains a realist about what could happen.

“You know racing, it can all fall over pretty quick,” he said.

It might be an exciting time for Lees as he will take control of the Caulfield Cup-bound Singing after a group 1 run over 2400 metres in Germany on September 7. But the trip to England could not come at a worse time.

“I just need to get over there and have things set up for him when he gets into quarantine at Newmarket,” Lees said. “It will be a hit-and-run mission really because I have some really good horses back here, which is a great place to be.

“I have watched his tapes and the boys at Australian Bloodstock have done a good job finding the right sort of horse for out here again. The plan is to run him in the Caulfield Cup, but like most of these horses I think he is going to be better in the autumn. It is good to be trusted with a horse like him.”

Lees wants to be back home for Newcastle Cup day where progressive stayers Ay No Digas and Oriental Lady, another two Germans Australian Bloodstock bought for him, could run.

“The boys are good at finding the right horses and they are locals from up here [in Newcastle], which makes it even better,” Lees said. “It would be great if we could win a Newcastle Cup for them because they have got a lot of locals into racing.”

Lees has a laid-back nature. Nothing becomes a big deal.

When Australian Bloodstock’s Jamie Lovett mentions that another one of his buys, Slow Pace, could be heading towards the Mackinnon Stakes then Hong Kong, if he is up to it, the trainer takes it in his stride.

“That would be great but it is a long way away, we have to get through Sydney before we even think of Melbourne,” Lees said. “Hong Kong, well that’s a dream.”

Racing is full of dreams.

But Lees’ team for the spring rolls off the tongue easily. Vinery Stakes winner Lucia Valentina will return in the Warwick Stakes or Toy Show Qaulity in a fortnight and the reports are good. For Australian Bloodstock there is Singing coming from Germany, former New Zealand mare Hera and the controversial Hathras to strengthen the team.

“I have a few irons in the fire and hopefully they come up,” Lees said. “I would say not since Samantha Miss have I had this sort of team.  I’m lucky that I have some nice horses and the boys at Australian Bloodstock have had a big part in that, but I can’t wait for Lucia Valentina.

“She won the Vinery and probably should have won the Oaks but you never know with fillies how they are going to measure up at four.

“There is few unknowns in Hathras and Slow Pace, which are coming off decent breaks but are looking all right.”

However, for Lees, Saturday at Randwick is just as important as the future as Cressfield’s mare Thump resumes in the Missile Stakes.

“She has had a couple of trials and always runs a good race fresh,” Lees said. “We have had Brenton Avdulla on her at both the trials and he knows her well, and I would expect she will run a good race against a very good field.

“I think group 2 is her level and it would be good if she could win another one of these sort of races.”

First-up winner Gold Epona could add her record before a possible appointment with a stallion in the next month or so, as will black-type winner Express Power, which lines up against benchmark company.

“It is that time of year, they are racing for their future,” Lees said. “The breeding barn is there for both of them but we will wait and see what they can do on Saturday. You are only as good as your last run.”

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Commuter: Wenty upgrade lacks consultation

29/06/2018 // by admin

Peter Simpson at Wentworthville Station. Picture: Natalie Roberts.Wheelchair user Peter Simpson claims there is a lack of community consultation on the Wentworthville station lift upgrade.
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Last week, the state government announceda $150 million package to upgrade six western Sydney train stations, including Wentworthville.

On July 31, transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said the government has been able to finalise the scope and fast-track the tender process for “major access upgrades” at Wentworthville.

But Mr Simpson, 61, one of the 11,000 people who signed a 2013 petition for lifts at Wentworthville, said he was concerned the final design would see the removal of existing ramps at the station.

He feared community consultation on the design would happen too late for local commuters to influence it and that the existing ramps at the station could be removed.

“They are only going to community consultation as an afterthought,” Mr Simpson said.

“[There has been] no consultation with anyone, not even council. Everyone in the CBD does not know what is going on. I have tried through local members and councillors to get ‘in the loop’ with their ‘concept’. Nothing happens.

“They have not contacted Holroyd Council about any changes to the footpath, which would be required for a lift with ramp and stairs, as the only place a lift could go is the end of the concourse down onto footpath [with the] footpath redesigned.”

Ms Berejiklian said this the announcement last week entailed a “huge boost” for thousands of western Sydney customers, especially older people, people with a disability and parents with prams.

“This multi-million dollar investment is on top of station upgrades and new commuter car parks already underway or completed in Western Sydney as part of the NSW Government’s $770 million Transport Access Program,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Labor’s record in Western Sydney was a disgrace – the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is working hard and making huge improvements to public transport in western Sydney.”

In June last year, the state government announced it would fund lifts for the station.On April 1 this year, Holroyd councillors Lisa Lake and Greg Cummings pushed for an official update on the project and timeline details from transport minister Gladys Berejiklian.

At the time, Cr Lake told the Sun a promise was made ‘‘and we’d like it to be honoured’’.

In April, a spokesman for Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said ‘‘detailed design’’ work was ‘‘being completed now [April]’’ for the upgrade, with planning approval documents to be placed on public exhibition ‘‘later this year’’.

On July 18, a Transport for NSW spokesman planning work was underway to deliver a multi-million dollar ‘‘major accessibility upgrade’’ atWentworthvilleand tenders would be called in the coming months.

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Shivers! Sub-zero temperatures

29/06/2018 // by admin

PORT Pirie is reeling from five consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures.
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Since Saturday, the city experienced very cold mornings with temperatures dropping below zero degrees, according to Recorder weatherman Joe McLaughlin.

Saturday morning had a low of -1.8C followed by Sunday with -2.3C, Monday with -2.2C, Tuesday with -1.2C and yesterday with -1.3C. This is the coldest snap since the airport weather station re-opened five full years ago.

Since the reopening of the airport station in August, 2006, and to the end of July this year there have been 17 days during the winter months when the mercury has fallen below0C.The lowest of those was -2.7C on July 29, 2008.

Previous to the airport occurrences, the only other incidences of below-zero readings were at the post office during June and July in 1958 when five days were below zero, with the lowest being -1.7C on June 27 and 29.

The only other incident was at the Harbours Board site when -0.6C was recorded on May 13, 1960.

In the five full years during 2007-2011, when both weather stations were operating simultaneously, there was a low anomaly of between 2.2C and 2.5C for the winter months minimum temperatures between the airport site with its open spaces and those taken at the more enclosed sites in the city centre.

With that anomaly in mind the -1.7C recorded at the post office in 1958 would most probably have been about -4C or lower if it had been recorded at the airport site.

JULY WARMER AND DRIER THAN AVERAGE

JULY – the mid month of winter – was warmer and drier than average.

This is according to Recorder weatherman Joe McLaughlin.

Although it rained on the average 13 days, the rainfall of 21.6mm was well below the average 37.1mm.

The highest daily rainfall was 6.0mm on July 10.

To the end of July, rain had been recorded on 59 days – nine more than average – and the highest number since 65 days over the same period during 1995. Rainfall to the end of July has totalled 276.6mm and is well ahead of the average 225.6mm for the seven months.

Night-time temperatures averaged 6.2C and were half-a-degree above average with a high of 11.1C and a low of 0.4C.

The average daily maximum of 16.8C was 0.3C above average and the warmest since the record 16.9C at the airport, shared by 2007, 2009 and 2013.

July’s highest recorded average daily maximum was 18.6C during 1975.

The highest maximum for the month was recorded on the last day when the mercury reached 21.8C.

The previous three days had highs of 20C or above and, although the July 29 reading was not recorded manually, it was recorded on the automatic weather station at the airport.

Strong northwesterly winds prevailed on two days of the month.

Joe McLaughlin compiled the statistics from data supplied by the Port Pirie airport weather station and the Bureau of Meteorology.

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George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin set wedding date

29/06/2018 // by admin

George Clooney and barrister Amal Alamuddin have received their marriage license in London ahead of their upcoming wedding. Photo: Joe Klamar/Justin Tallis The couple’s wedding banns as they appear outside the Chelsea Town Hall. Photo: DListed南京夜网
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Ladies, prepare to mark September 20 in your diaries as an international day of mourning as we say goodbye to George Clooney: bachelor.

According to WWD, Clooney is set to wed his human rights lawyer fiancee Amal Alamuddin in Venice during a weekend of festivities in late September.

That means Italy will play host to two of the most high-profile weddings of the year, the first being the ostentatious nuptials of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in Florence back in May.

Clooney has reportedly rented ”an entire island” for the ”small affair”, a source told WWD. No word yet if he will follow West’s lead and also present a 20-minute toast, bring in gold-plated toilets and a marble table which will be engraved with the names of every guest.

While details of Alamuddin’s wedding gown are being tightly guarded, the fashion industry publication suggested the 37-year-old barrister ”is believed to be considering designers, including Oscar de la Renta”.

Meanwhile, Clooney has been a little more overt in his wardrobe choice for the big day. An entire team from Giorgio Armani recently flew from the designer’s Milan base to the former ER star’s home on Lake Como to fit him and his groomsmen with suits for the wedding.

The couple, according to website Dlisted, have registered for their marriage licence after a successful application was lodged in London, Alamuddin’s adopted home town.

A photo of an announcement of the couple’s intention to marry was posted outside the Chelsea Town Hall on Wednesday. By law the intention to marry must be publicly displayed for 16 days before a couple is allowed to wed. The banns states Clooney and Ms Alamuddin will marry in Italy.

The couple announced their engagement in April. They first met at a charity function where Alamuddin refused to take Clooney’s number. The actor then reportedly sent her an email suggesting ”the hottest man in the world should meet with the hottest human rights lawyer in the world”. She replied a few days later.

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