GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 539
30 April 2021
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Q&A PRESENTER HAMISH MACDONALD INTERRUPTS SENATOR BRIDGET McKENZIE
At least Q&A panel members behaved with greater courtesy last night than the previous week – re which see MWD Issue 538.
But, alas, Q&A presenter Hamish Macdonald would be advised to improve his manners when addressing female Coalition parliamentarians. Let’s go to the transcript of last night’s Q&A where Comrade Macdonald asks Nationals Senate leader Bridget McKenzie a question, then interrupts on three occasions – and then invites Labor’s Mark Butler to tell viewers (if viewers there were) whether McKenzie was speaking the truth:
Hamish Macdonald: Senator, though, the Jane Halton review conducted into hotel quarantine, it was handed down in October last year. It recommended a national quarantine facility, with surge capacity for exactly an instance like this – Australians stuck elsewhere, having to bring them back in. Why didn’t we act on that?
Bridget McKenzie: Well, you’re seeing the Howard Springs announcement this week, we’re going to –
Hamish Macdonald: [interjecting] This week?
Bridget McKenzie: Well this is the surge –
Hamish Macdonald: [interjecting] This was six months ago, this was October last year.
Bridget McKenzie: This was the surge capacity that’s been spoken about – so if [Western Australian Premier Mark] McGowan wants more people home, which he doesn’t –
Presenter: [interjecting] Is that true, Mark Butler?
Bridget McKenzie: McGowan actually said this week: “we don’t want any more back here” – they don’t want to be bringing people from high-risk countries.
Mark Butler: Well, what State governments have said is –
As the transcript demonstrates, Senator McKenzie held her ground. But your man Macdonald should attend a courtesy class.
THE FRAN KELLY/PETER COLLIGNON INTERVIEW IN WHICH THE ANU PROFESSOR STRUGGLED TO GET A WORD IN EDGEWAYS
Did anyone hear ABC Radio National presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly interview Professor Peter Collignon on Wednesday? If you did, you would know that this was Comrade Kelly at her activist best – or worst. Depending on your point of view.
Now Professor Collignon is an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital and professor at the Australian National University’s Medical School and a member of the Infection Control Expert Group that reports to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, Professor Collignon has appeared regularly on Sky News and occasionally on the ABC.
It is a matter of record that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster has preferred to take its “expert” advice form Dr Norman Swan – a qualified medical practitioner but not an expert in epidemiology or disease control.
Those who have followed Collignon over the past year, will know that his analysis of the pandemic has been considered and wise. Moreover, unlike your man Swan, he has not made numerous false predictions or exaggerated claims. Re which see MWD passim ad nauseam.
Why, Peter Collignon MB, BS(Hons), BSc(Med), FRACP, FRCPA, FASM has almost as many qualifications as Media Watch Dog fave Phillip Adams has honorary degrees. But MWD digresses.
Alas, none of Dr Collignon’s qualifications impressed Comrade Kelly last Wednesday. She had recently interviewed Dr Andrew Miller, president of the Western Australian Medical Association, and wanted Australia to follow his advice about wearing N95 gear “for all COVID contact”. Professor Collignon did not agree – but Comrade Kelly thought he should. By the way, the RN Breakfast presenter has as many medical qualifications as Jackie’s (male) co-owner. To wit, zip.
Avid readers can hear the Kelly/Collignon confrontation on the ABC’s website. On MWD’s count, the presenter put to her guest a total of 16 questions/propositions. It was only on the last occasion that Professor Collignon was able to respond without being interrupted. Here’s an example of the exchange:
Fran Kelly: [Interjecting] Do you think it’s important to have national guidelines on ventilation in hotel quarantine?
Peter Collignon: Yes, I do. I think it’s a very good idea. But just –
Fran Kelly: [Interjecting] So why don’t we have it?
Peter Collignon: Well, the group I’m in answers actually to the chief health officers who make that decision. But my own view –
Fran Kelly: [interjecting] But aren’t they coming to you for expert advice, wouldn’t they be wanting expert advice from you on that?
Peter Collignon: – So I do I fully agree that for ventilation, we need actually clear guidelines about [hotel] corridors in particular. And we need expertise from a number of groups. So the principle –
Fran Kelly: [Interjecting] Shouldn’t your group lead the way? Your group is the group where the AHPPC takes their advice that advises the national cabinet, shouldn’t you lead the way? And will you recommend that the expert group comes up with some kind of national guidelines, national standards?
And so it went on. And on. And on. It seems that Dr Collignon’s essential problem was that Comrade Kelly did not agree with him. Bad luck for RN listeners who wanted to hear what one of Australia’s leading experts on disease control had to say – but were prevented from doing so as the activist Kelly appeared to channel Sky News’ Alan Jones’ interruptions. Can You Bear It?
[Er, no. Not really. But here’s some advice. Perhaps you should revive your apparently dormant “Top Media Interrupter of the Week” gong. Fran Kelly would have won hands down this week – MWD Editor.]
DR NORMAN SWAN’S WOOLWORTHS PROBLEM
While on the topic of Norman (“Please call me doctor”) Swan, MWD notes that Nick Tabakoff reported in his “The Diary” column in The Australian on Monday that the ABC’s doctor-in-the-house is apparently suffering from a certain lack of anonymity. Here’s an update on your man Swan’s profile crisis – as told to Mr Tabakoff:
But when Diary reached Swan on Friday, he made it clear his meteoric rise in profile was “never what I intended”. “I used to like the anonymity of Radio National, with 2 per cent of the national audience. You could creep around Woolies without anyone knowing who you are. You could cough without anyone tweeting about it.” He added of his current media prominence: “I know these things are ephemeral, they last a minute, and you go back to normal. My role is to get information to the public.”
Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Swan told us that prior to COVID-19, his biggest presence in the public consciousness had been during “six seasons as the medical person on The Biggest Loser”. Swan said his profile rose early in the pandemic, with a “bit of a trust vacuum before the PM got his act together in March last year”.
What a load of absolute tosh. Prime Minister Scott Morrison closed Australia’s border to China (from where the virus had emerged) on 1 February 2020 and on 27 February 2020 declared that COVID-19 would become a pandemic. Norman Swan commenced his coronavirus podcast on 4 March 2020.
In other words, Comrade Swan got his own act together some time after the Prime Minister had declared a pandemic. And he reckons that the Morrison government and its health advisers followed him.
As to your man Swan’s Woolworths problem – here’s some (gratuitous) advice. If a restoration of anonymity is sought, he could cease his almost daily appearances on ABC outlets where his mates never query him about false predictions, contradictory advice and so on. And Dr Swan could junk fronting the NSW government’s multi-million dollar bowel cancer prevention campaign and pass over the role to a cancer specialist. Especially since he has been a critic of the NSW Health Department in recent times.
What’s more, Norman Swan should decline invitations to appear at various writers’ festivals, which are invariably leftist stacks. This week he appeared at the 2021 Sydney Writers’ Festival which – like the ABC, is a taxpayer funded Conservative Free Zone flogging his forthcoming book So You Think You Know What’s Good For You which is yet to be published. And there are quite a few conservative authors who were not invited to the 2021 SWF despite the fact that their books have been published.
Oh, yes. Your man Swan should also stop talking about his sex life to the likes of Benjamin Law in Nine’s publications. As MWD readers will recall (see Issue 504), Norman Swan submitted himself to appear in Comrade Law’s “Dicey Topics” column in Good Weekend on 4 July 2020.
One of the dice Swan drew was “sex”. So he told Good Weekend readers about the “complete bloody disaster” which resulted from “broadening the relationship with women who were friends into a sexual relationship”. Go on – alas he did. Swan also told Law of an “erotic story” written by a female about an unnamed woman who, er, gets excited whenever she hears Dr Swan’s voice on the ABC. Fancy that. [No, not for me. – MWD Editor.]
So there you have it. Here’s a 68-year-old bloke talking about his sex life and the ladies. And the same sexagenarian wonders where his anonymity went as he shops for celery in the aphrodisiac section at his local Woolies. Can You Bear It?
COPYRIGHT AGENCY AND THE SYDNEY (aka SCOTT) WRITERS’ FESTIVAL
While on the topic of the leftist stacks that are writer’s festivals, thanks to the avid and angry reader who has drawn MWD’s attention to the fact that Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund is (according to its blurb) “supporting the upcoming Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) and the Brisbane Writers’ Festival (BWF)”. Here’s what this angry person had to say:
For most authors, the only way to get access to copyright payments for use of your articles is to become a member of the Copyright Agency. The Copyright Agency has decided to take a cut of our payments to give to writers’ festivals, including the left-stacked Sydney Writers’ Festival. As a member, I’m annoyed I have to pay for this.
To be fair to Copyright Agency, it’s not responsible for the fact that the SWF is, once again, a leftist stack. Re which see MWD Issue 535.
The chair of the Sydney Writers’ Festival is Mark Scott. As avid readers are all too well aware, Nice Mr Scott was nice to leftists when he was ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief and presided over a Conservative Free Zone which did not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor on any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Then your man Scott did nothing to stop the left’s march through the institutions when he headed the NSW Education Department. He’s soon to become vice-chancellor of Sydney University, so expect more of the same.
In the meantime, Nice Mr Scott presides each year over the Sydney Writers’ Festival where you would only find a conservative if he or she got lost down at The Rocks while trying to locate the Liberal Party’s headquarters. No wonder MWD’s avid reader – and writer – is angry with Copyright Agency supporting what presents as Scott’s Writers’ Festival. Can You Bear It?
ALL QUIET ON THE ABC FRONT RE SEBASTIEN MAURY AND THE LATE JON STEPHENS
Meet Nick Leys – the ABC Head of Communications who does not communicate. Two recent case studies illustrate the point.
- Sebastien Maury and the (Alleged) “Fascist” Morrison Government
ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson appeared before Senate Estimates on 23 March 2021. During the proceedings, the ABC supremo was asked by Liberal Party Senator Andrew Bragg if he thought it appropriate for an ABC employee to describe the Morrison government as “fascist”.
Senator Bragg drew Mr Anderson’s attention to tweets by senior ABC lawyer Sebastien Maury which referred to the Coalition government as “fascist” and described Scott Morrison as “a bad person and an awful prime minister”. There was also reference to the ABC lawyer’s comment – after the ABC TV Four Corners program on (then) attorney-general Christian Porter in late November 2020: “If this doesn’t finish his [Porter’s] career then nothing means anything.” The tweets were revealed by Richard Ferguson in The Australian and were taken up by Senator Bragg in Senate Estimates.
David Anderson told Senator Bragg that he was “disappointed to hear” about Sebastien Maury’s comments. But what did the ABC managing director do? Well, nothing much. Rather than handling the matter himself – as would be warranted in a situation where a senior lawyer employed by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster abused the prime minister – Mr Anderson flicked the matter to the ABC’s People and Culture department. Which, in yonder days, would have been called Human Resources or some such. In other words, the handling of the issue was passed by ABC senior management to ABC bureaucrats.
On 31 March 2021, Gerard Henderson directed this (courteous) email to Sally Jackson and Nick Leys at ABC Communications:
As you will be aware, on 23 March Richard Ferguson in The Australian reported that the Sebastien Maury matter has been referred to ABC People and Culture for internal investigation. I would be grateful if you could advise whether the issue has progressed beyond ABC P&C. It would be appreciated if you could let me know by 2 pm today.
On 31 March 2021 the following reply was received:
This is an internal matter at present. If we make a public comment I’ll make sure you know.
A month later, no comment has been made. So, according to a senior ABC lawyer, the Morrison government is “fascist”. But this is just an “internal matter” concerning which the ABC may – or may not – make a public comment. How about that?
The Civil Case Against the ABC re the Late Pedophile Jon Stephens
On 14 April 2021, two weeks after April Fool’s Day, Hendo tried again concerning the ABC’s very own historical child sexual abuse.
As you may or may not be aware, I have been interested in the Jon Stephens case for some years. As you may know, the late Jon Stephens pleaded guilty in 2017 to the historical child sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy which occurred in 1981 when Stephens was an ABC employee on ABC duties.
On 9 April 2020, in answer to a question on notice, Senator Linda Reynolds (representing the Minister for Communications) confirmed that formal proceedings have been instituted in the District Court of NSW “against the ABC in relation to the behaviour of Jon Stephens against the plaintiff”. It was revealed that, as of April 2020, the ABC paid $25,950 in legal fees for external counsel with respect to this case.
I would be grateful if you could advise of the state of these proceedings against the ABC – which have not been assessed by the ABC News editors as of sufficient news value to warrant reporting on the public broadcaster. I would appreciate a response by 10 am on Friday 16 April 2021. The request is made in view of the ABC’s public commitment in the Right to Know Coalition.
Nick Leys responded on 14 April as follows:
I will see if there is any available comment for you.
That’s over two weeks ago and Mr Leys has not provided any “available” comment. Another example of the ABC’s head of communications declining to communicate.
Over the years, the ABC has devoted considerable resources to alleged and established cases of historical child sexual abuse. But the ABC has not reported the Jon Stephens case – despite the fact that Stephens was a well-known ABC producer who worked in the area of children’s television and pleaded guilty to his crime – and who was facing charges of other alleged crimes of pedophilia when he died in late 2019.
And now the ABC will not advise as to the state of the civil case involving Jon Stephens in which the ABC was (or perhaps still is) a defendant in the NSW District Court. In spite of the fact that the ABC house lawyers have been involved in the case and additional taxpayer funds have been expended on outside legal advice.
And the ABC remains a member of the Right to Know Coalition.
DAVID CROWE + LAURA TINGLE ON TARGETS
Last Friday, Nine Newspapers’ chief political correspondent David Crowe got all steamed up about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent address to the Business Council of Australia. He took particular exception to that part of the PM’s speech – which was probably put in to annoy the likes of Comrade Crowe – that went as follows: “We’re not going to achieve net zero [emissions] in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner-cities.”
In fact, this was a true statement. Unless Comrade Crowe believes that many of Australia’s emissions come from the inner-city consumption of food, coffee and wine. But there you go. It turned out that the chief political correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age believes in 2050 targets. As he put it in his column on 23 April 2021:
By the time Morrison commits to net zero by 2050, probably around the time of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow in November, other leaders will have moved further ahead. He may upgrade his target for 2030, but even that is not certain.
This makes Australia a laggard on pledges, but Morrison will talk about outcomes more than targets. He says Australia has cut its emissions by 19 per cent from 2005 to 2020, almost twice the result of the US. His refrain this year will be about the cuts achieved so far and his belief in having detailed plans to achieve more of them.
The funding put on the table this week is a start, but nothing happens without a target. Morrison will have to set a clear goal at the top before the election. He might want to adjust his tone about wine bars, too.
So there you have it. David Crowe wants Australia to have a clear 2050 target – and no talk about wine bars. This is based on the naïve assumption that what elected and unelected leaders say will happen in 2050 – will actually happen.
Here is a sample of the countries currently proposing reaching net zero emissions by 2050: The UK, France, Hungary, New Zealand, South Korea, Chile, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland. For some of these countries net zero by 2050 may be a realistic goal, but others have not even managed to reach their anticipated peak emissions so far. If all these nations reach all these targets by 2050, Jackie’s (male) co-owner will drain all inner-city bars.
Another Canberra Press Gallery journalist obsessed with targets is Australian Financial Review columnist and ABC TV 7:30’s political correspondent Laura Tingle. This is what La Tingle wrote in ABC Online on 24 April 2021 under the heading “The reason the Morrison government struggles with the idea of targets”.
Ten years ago, there was certainly more of a sense of the theatre of good intent in international climate talks than there is now. Many countries had moved a long way in the intervening decade – countries like Germany, where 80 per cent of power is already coming from renewables.
This was a Laura Tingle howler – which has since been corrected in the ABC Online article. Right now, about 20 per cent of Germany’s energy comes from renewables (including nuclear power) – which is a long way south of 80 per cent. Also, currently about 18 per cent of Germany’s energy comes from – wait for it – coal. In fact, Germany currently consumes polluting brown coal. By the way, Germany gets about 25 per cent of its energy from gas.
This is what Comrade Tingle wrote in the revised version of her article:
Many countries have moved a long way in the intervening decade – countries like Germany, which has signalled it wants to increase the amount of power it gets from renewables to 80 per cent by 2030.
So there you have it. Don’t worry about what Germany does – just note that Germany has signalled that it intends to increase the amount of power it wants to get from renewables to 80 per cent (from 20 per cent) in less than a decade.
It would seem that the National Press Club of Australia heavies – Laura Tingle (president) and David Crowe (a director) – believe that leaders will announce targets today which some other leaders will meet in the future. How naïve can a Canberra journo get?
NINE’S PETER FITZSIMONS’ GALLIPOLI HOWLER ON ANZAC DAY (NO LESS)
Once upon a time, the journalist Peter FitzSimons, who presents as an historian, held the view that members of the Australian Imperial Force involved in the First World War did not really fight for Australia – but, rather, for Britain. This analysis, for want of a better word, overlooked the fact that in 1914 Germany had possessions in the Pacific and that a victory for Imperial Germany circa 1918 would have had a deleterious impact on Australia. In other words, the First World War was not another nation’s war.
FitzSimons essentially still holds this view – except that he now acknowledges the important role played by the First AIF in the victories over German forces in the northern spring-summer of 1918 which led to the defeat of Germany in the field of battle on the Western Front.
This is what Fitz had to say about Gallipoli in his Anzac Day column in the Sun-Herald last Sunday:
I did a book on Gallipoli…and have deep respect for what our blokes accomplished there. But it was as nothing compared with what they went on to do at the Western Front where, most particularly from the March 21, 1918 on – when the whole war lay in the balance – they fought a dozen key battles, for a dozen key victories and never gave an inch of ground. Beyond everything else, Gallipoli served as an example of how not to do things.
At the Battle of the Nek on August 7, 1915, when the entire Australian Army was under English command, four waves of Australian soldiers were sent charging at Turkish machine guns no more than 50 yards away. In the space of just minutes we had 372 killed or wounded, with not a metre gained.
This is misleading. It is true that the First AIF was under British command during the Dardanelles campaign of 1915. But it is not true that the “English command” was responsible for sending “waves of Australian soldiers” into enemy fire on 7 August 1915 at the Battle of The Nek.
This is evident to anyone who has read Volume II of Official History titled The Story of the Anzacs by C.E.W. Bean which was first published in 1924. This is what Bean had to say at Page 631:
So ended the feints of August 7th. For sheer bravery, devoted loyalty, and that self-discipline which seldom failed in Australian soldiers they stand alone in the annals of their country. Not once during all this deadly fighting did the troops display the least hesitation in performing what they believed to be their duty. But the difficulties of the secondary attack upon a position of extraordinary strength had been insufficiently considered by Birdwood and Skeen.
For the annihilation of line after line in The Nek the local command was, however, chiefly responsible. Although at such crises in a great battle firm action must be taken, sometimes regardless of cost, there could be no valid reason for flinging away the later lines after the first had utterly failed. It is doubtful if there exists in the records of the A.I.F. one instance in which, after one attacking party had been signally defeated, a second, sent after it, succeeded without some radical change having been effected in the plan or the conditions. Even had the enemy’s trenches been reached and entered by later lines, it is unlikely that the movement of Turkish troops towards Chunuk Bair would have been affected by it to a greater extent than by the onslaught of the first line.
But it seems certain that Antill at headquarters did not make himself aware of the true position, and, apart from the blunder in timing, it is to this that the heavy loss was mainly due….
General W.R. Birdwood and General A. Skeen were British and, as such, responsible for sending the first wave into battle against the Turks at The Nek. But Major General J.M. Antill was a senior regular officer in the Australian Army. And it was Antill who was responsible for sending the second subsequent lines into attack after the first line had failed to breach the Turkish defence at The Nek.
In short, what Peter FitzSimons told Sun-Herald readers on 25 April 2021 was hopelessly wrong.
INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY’S ENERGY REVIEW THROWS DOUBT ON MALCOLM TURNBULL’S Q&A ATTACK ON KEITH PITT
The transcript for last week’s Q&A came out at around Gin & Tonic Time on 23 April 2021 – too late for a reference in last Friday’s Media Watch Dog. Sure the program was reported in MWD – but without the assistance of the official transcript. When it appeared, the Q&A transcript was headed “Climate, Politics and ‘Fossil Fools’”.
This was a reference to the fact that Network 10 journalist Narelda Jacobs had called engineer and business identity Andrew Liveris a “fossil fool”. Despite Q&A presenter Hamish (“I don’t watch TV unless I am on it”) Macdonald’s assertion that the program is into respect – Q&A is using Comrade Jacobs’ assertion that Mr Liveris is a “fool” in its advertising. How respectful is that?
But MWD digresses. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was also into discourtesy. When discussion turned to the demand for coal, Mr Turnbull variously called Resources Minister Keith Pitt “crazy”, “bonkers”, “nuts”, “mad” and – wait for it – accused him of “just reading the Daily Telegraph and watching Sky News”. Just part of the Q&A’s respectful discussion, apparently. [What’s wrong with reading the Telly and watching Sky News After Dark? – MWD Editor.]
Let’s go to the official transcript to pick up the “respectful” discussion:
Malcolm Turnbull: …We’ve got to get out of coal, and the world’s getting out of coal. And the longer we pretend we’re not, the more we’re putting at risk the jobs and the future prosperity of the people who work in that industry. It is literally telling people in the resources sector lies about their prospects.
Keith Pitt: That’s untrue.
Malcolm Turnbull: We have – it – Keith, it is – Keith…
Keith Pitt: Malcolm, there are 200 power plants either under construction or under design and there is demand for Australian coal, because it’s high quality –
Malcolm Turnbull: [interrupting] Keith, this is a fantasy.
Keith Pitt: – it’s efficient, we can deliver it efficiently. And that’s why people buy it.
Malcolm Turnbull: This – do – do – do you read the news? I mean, have you noticed what’s going on in Washington?….
Alas, Comrade Macdonald did not ask Malcolm Turnbull whether he had read “the news” in the Australian Financial Review earlier that very day. It carried a New York Times story which it titled “Coal Rebound Fuels Climate Debate” commenting on the International Energy Agency’s Global Energy Review 2021. The report referred to a decline of 4 per cent in 2020 in the demand for global coal – primarily due to COVID-19 restrictions and the resulting economic downturn. Then the International Energy Agency looked to 2021 and had this to say:
In 2021, we expect recovering economic activity to reverse 2020’s decline in coal demand, with a 4.5% increase pushing global coal demand above 2019 levels. The power sector accounted for just over 40% of the drop in coal use in 2020, but the rapid increase in coal-fired generation in Asia sees it account for three-quarters of the rebound in 2021. Gas prices are also expected to rise in 2021, leading to some switching back to coal, notably in the United States and the European Union. The growth of coal consumption in 2021 is a continuation of the rebound in global coal demand that began in the final quarter of 2020. While an exceptional cold snap in December in northeast Asia was partly to blame for increasing coal demand, the rapid growth of coal-fired electricity generation is a reminder of coal’s central role in fuelling some of the world’s largest economies.
China is the only major economy where coal demand increased in 2020. Strong economic growth underpins electricity demand in 2021, while post-Covid stimulus measures support production of steel, cement and other coal-intensive industrial products. We expect coal demand to increase by more than 4% in 2021, keeping demand well above the 2014 peak and reaching the highest ever levels for China….
So there you have it. At about 10 pm on Thursday 22 April 2021, Malcolm Turnbull told Q&A viewers (if viewers there were) that “the world’s getting out of coal”. But a day before this claim was made, the International Energy Agency reported that there is a “rebound in global coal demand”. Needless to say, presenter Hamish Macdonald did not query Malcolm Turnbull’s claim.
So it would seem that Keith Pitt is not as crazy, bonkers, nuts or mad as Malcolm Turnbull claimed – and that perhaps the former prime minister should spend more time reading The Daily Telegraph and watching Sky News. MWD thought that avid readers would like to know about this.
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Until next time.
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