||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (April 2014)|
|Senator for New South Wales|
6 March 2012 – 24 October 2013
|Preceded by||Mark Arbib|
|Succeeded by||Deborah O'Neill|
|Minister for Foreign Affairs|
13 March 2012 – 18 September 2013
|Prime Minister||Julia Gillard
|Preceded by||Craig Emerson|
|Succeeded by||Julie Bishop|
|39th Premier of New South Wales
Elections: 1995, 1999, 2003
4 April 1995 – 3 August 2005
|Preceded by||John Fahey|
|Succeeded by||Morris Iemma|
|Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales|
11 April 1988 – 4 April 1995
|Preceded by||Nick Greiner|
|Succeeded by||Peter Collins|
|Member of the New South Wales Parliament
22 October 1983 – 3 August 2005
|Preceded by||Bill Haigh|
|Succeeded by||Michael Daley|
|Born||Robert John Carr
28 September 1947
Matraville, Sydney, Australia
|Political party||Labor Party|
|Alma mater||University of New South Wales|
Robert John "Bob" Carr (born 28 September 1947) is a former politician from Australia. A member of the Labor Party, he served in the government of Australia as Minister for Foreign Affairs from March 2012 to September 2013, while also serving in the Australian Senate as a Senator for New South Wales. From 4 April 1995 to 3 August 2005, Carr was the Premier of New South Wales. He was the longest continuously serving Premier of the state (only Sir Henry Parkes served longer, although Parkes held the office on five separate occasions).
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 New South Wales state politics (1983–2005)
- 3 After state politics (2006–12)
- 4 Federal politics (2012–2013)
- 5 Literature
- 6 Awards
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Early life and career
Carr was born in the suburb of Matraville in Sydney, to Edward and Phyllis Carr. He was educated at Matraville High School from which he graduated as dux in 1964. He was the first person in his family to finish high school, and became interested in a career in politics in his teenage years.
While still a 15-year-old student at school, Carr joined the local branch of the Australian Labor Party. He would go on to become the President of the New South Wales branch and then the national President of Young Labor in 1970 and 1972 respectively. He completed his tertiary education at the University of New South Wales, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History.
After graduation, Carr worked as a journalist for the ABC Radio's AM and PM current affair programs from 1969 to 1971. He was also a reporter on industrial relations and politics for The Bulletin magazine from 1978 to 1983. He later recalled that his work as a journalist provided good preparation for his political career. He also spent a period working as an education officer for the Labor Council of New South Wales (1972–78).
In 1972, Carr met a Malaysian economics student, Helena John on a holiday in Tahiti, and they married on 24 February 1973. Helena Carr became a successful businesswoman, while she largely remained out of the political spotlight during her husband's career.
New South Wales state politics (1983–2005)
Carr entered the New South Wales Legislative Assembly at a by-election in October 1983 as the member for Maroubra, representing the Australian Labor Party. In December 1984 he was appointed Minister for Planning and the Environment in the Neville Wran government. In February 1986 he also took on the Consumer Affairs portfolio, which he held until he became Minister for Heritage in July 1986 when Barrie Unsworth became premier.
Leader of the opposition (1988–1995)
The Unsworth Labor government was defeated in a landslide in March 1988, in the context of a 'time for a change' sentiment after 12 years of Labor. Carr was interested in international relations, and his long-term ambition was to enter federal politics and become Minister for Foreign Affairs. However, following the election Carr was pressured by his own right–wing faction to stand for the leadership. Further, the party organisation did not want Laurie Brereton as leader; he would go on to represent the federal seat of Kingsford Smith, which Carr viewed as his path to federal politics. Thus Carr reluctantly agreed to become Leader of the Opposition, as revealed in his diary entries from the time:
I spent today like a doomed man, taking phone calls and drafting a statement, still saying to the press I wasn't shifting. I feel a jolt in my stomach about what I'm getting myself in for. I will destroy my career in four years. Everything's altered. It's my fate ... So, for better or for worse, I become leader of the party next week.
— Diary notes of Bob Carr in 1988
Despite his misgivings, Carr's performance as Opposition Leader gained approval in the party. Polling in the lead-up to the 1991 election predicted another heavy defeat. However, Labor regained all but one of the seats lost at the previous election. As a result, while the Coalition won 52 percent of the two-party vote, Labor scored a 10-seat swing and came up only four seats short of Carr becoming Premier. Greiner was forced into a minority government with the support of independents.
In 1992 Greiner resigned following adverse findings against him from the Independent Commission Against Corruption. John Fahey replaced him as premier, but was hampered by his need to negotiate with independents. Labor won the 1995 election with a majority of one seat, elevating Carr to the office of Premier of New South Wales.
Premier of New South Wales (1995–2005)
His centrist, cautious government was characterised by conservative financial management and the encouragement of market forces, and a "tough on crime" policy. It was also seen[by whom?] as having a strong pro-environment character and being committed to curriculum rigour (especially history), testing and literacy initiatives in schools. Carr ventured into national policy issues, particularly issues concerning the environment, population growth, embryonic stem cell research, federal–state relations and support for a minimalist model of an Australian Republic. Carr's government, under State Treasurers Michael Egan and Andrew Refshauge, delivered ten consecutive budget surpluses.
Nature conservation was a priority for the Government and for Carr personally. Carr moved to ban canal estates because of their impact on river systems, and implemented an election pledge to prevent logging in parts of southeastern NSW by creating the South East Forest National Park along NSW's coastal range from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border.
Carr's election policies had also included commitments to protect 90,000 hectares (220,000 acres) of old-growth forest and wilderness areas through a string of new national parks. The promise was exceeded with gazettal of 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) between 1995 and 2005. The initiative was supported by a A$6 million forestry restructuring package to build a modern mill and provide a 20 year guarantee of alternative timber.
Following the 1999 state election, Carr's government declared 100 new national parks between Nowra and the Bega Valley. Carr claimed in 2009 that: "rural towns did not 'die' as a result of these conservation measures. The old timber towns now boast communities with a strong economic base, world-class national parks on their doorstep and thriving nature-based tourism". In its first term, the government banned the removal of old-growth vegetation from farmlands and introduced pricing for rural water and an environmental allocation to the state's river systems. In June 2001 jet skis were banned from Sydney Harbour. Carr said: "You wouldn't allow motor bikes in the Botanic Gardens".
The curbs on the clearing of nature vegetation were mounted as a serious anti-greenhouse gas measure, helping Australia achieve its Kyoto targets. In addition, in January 2003 the Carr government launched the world's first greenhouse gas trading scheme, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme, which set a limit on carbon emissions by electricity retailers. It was listed by the World Bank as the world's first carbon trading scheme.
In 2003 the government created the building sustainability index (BASIX) which mandated reductions in energy and water use of up to 40 percent in every new dwelling built after July 2004. Regarding environmental and education improvements, Carr noted in his diary for 21 April 1997: "Yesterday our school reforms were announced. All the ideas I'd formulated in Opposition. Four-unit English for the HSC. Compulsory exams at the end of Year 10. Soft options gone… I mark the package with forestry. I could leave politics and be satisfied with my achievements."
In its second term the Carr government embarked on tort law reform that earned Carr a description from Forbes Magazine as a "dragon slayer". In 1999, with the cost of many forms of injury insurance increasing, Carr gave his Minister John Della Bosca the task of reform. It resulted in what Carr would call "legal rorts" being stripped from the system. The average price of a green slip (compulsory third party motor accident insurance) was to drop $150 on 1999 prices. Carr argued that this created what he called: "the most comprehensive tort reform that any government has developed ... at the expense of the plaintiff lawyers who had fed on a culture of rorts and rip-offs". Carr noted in his diary: "It's not worth being Premier unless you can take privileges off the undeserving."
However the fact that the law effectively made it impossible to claim for any injury worth less than around $60,000 was criticised by New South Wales Chief Justice James Spigelman and others. Spigelman argued that it effectively "eliminates small claims" entirely, giving "people the right to be negligent and injure someone up to a given level before they become liable". Spigelman said:
The introduction of a requirement that a person be subject to 15 percent of whole of body impairment—a percentage that is lower in some states—before being able to recover general damages has been the subject of controversy. It does mean that some people who are quite seriously injured are not able to sue at all. More than any other factor I envisage this restriction will be seen as much too restrictive.
As a result of a 1999 drug summit the Carr cabinet introduced Australia's first medically supervised injecting room for heroin users, located in King's Cross. The government argued it was a harm minimisation measure to keep drug users alive until they make the decision to get off drugs. Other reforms included the introduction of drug courts and a voluntary diversion program that allows magistrates to refer offenders to treatment rather than impose prison sentences.
The Carr-led Opposition had backed a motion by independent John Hatton in May 1994 to establish a Royal Commission into corruption in the NSW Police. As a result, Carr inherited the work of the Royal Commission and its reports. In November 1996 one of the reports recommended that the government give increased power to the Police Commissioner to hire and fire all staff, random drug and alcohol testing of all police officers, the formation of the police detection commission to detect and audit police corruption. But the recommendations sparked strong objection from the Police Association backed by the Labor Council and demonstrations at parliament house by 1500 police. There was a revolt in Carr's parliamentary party. Carr was adamant that the commissioner must have the increased power if the police force were to be rid of corrupt or compromised officers, and the legislation was passed.
The Carr Government pioneered private–public partnerships (PPPs) to fund additional infrastructure, creating a model followed in other states. Five projects delivered Sydney a ring road system including the M5 Extension, the Eastern Distributor, the M2 Hills Motorway, the Westlink M7, the Lane Cove Tunnel, and the Cross City Tunnel. These projects had a total cost of A$$5.4 billion, while all but $800 million was contributed by the private sector.
According to the press release, in 2007 Infrastructure Partnerships Australia awarded three projects began under Carr's Premiership as the best PPPs in Australia: the Westlink M7 opened in late 2005; school construction and maintenance which the Auditor General said had saved tax payers $55 million; and the maintenance of 626 new rail carriages. The focus on roads spending instead of public transport has been criticised as the wrong priority on environmental grounds: "It was clear even then that NSW desperately needed public transport investment."
A year after his appointment as premier, Carr caused controversy when he recommended that the newly appointed New South Wales Governor, Gordon Samuels, not live at Government House, which would become a museum open to the public. This decision was seen by monarchists as an attempt by Carr, a republican, to downgrade the importance of the office of Governor.
Carr's government was in power during much of the building of facilities and the conduct of the 2000 Olympic Games. Carr was to boast that the 2000 Olympics were paid in full without a cent in debt.
By March 2004, public support for Carr started to slip; Newspoll showed that for the first time more people were dissatisfied than satisfied with the Premier. The opposition were exploiting a public view that the government had underspent on urban infrastructure and public transport. Even after series of announcements and re-announcements of more trains, power stations and a desalination plant, the public had seen enough of Carr. By June 2005, only 35% were satisfied with his performance whereas his dissatisfaction rating had been over 51% since September 2004.
After ten years as Premier, Carr announced his resignation both as Premier and as the Member for Maroubra on 27 July 2005 to be effective from 3 August. This immediately prompted speculation that the resignation was a prelude to a move into federal politics, but Carr denied this. His successor as Premier was former Health Minister Morris Iemma. Carr's resignation triggered the resignations of Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge and Planning Minister Craig Knowles.
Retired Premier Neville Wran described Carr as "the very model of a modern Labor premier, an articulate and powerful public performer who identified himself with the contemporary policy issues of education and the environment." Wran noted that the Carr model became a template for other Australian Labor Party leaders, with some regarding him as a mentor.
After Carr the NSW government was able to claim that while in 1994 there were 328 national parks covering four million hectares of NSW, Carr's policies increased this to 770 national parks covering 6.6 million hectares by 2006. Wilderness protection was expanded: there were 650,000 hectares (1,600,000 acres) in 1994, by 2006 nearly two million hectares.
The North Side Sewage Tunnel, funded by the government in its first term, stopped more than 20 billion litres of sewage reaching Sydney Harbour and saw whales and dolphins return to it. The government also built pollution traps to capture litter and rubbish that would have otherwise been flushed with storm water onto Sydney beaches. In 1994, before the election of the government, 430 kilograms (950 lb) of waste was being generated by every Sydney resident each year, and only 60 kilograms (130 lb) being recycled. Reforms to the waste industry saw a 28 percent reduction to 310 kilograms (680 lb) per person and a 65 percent increase in recycling to 102 kilograms (225 lb) per person.
He received credit for the increase in the number and size of the state's national parks, while criticism was made about rail transport which recorded a period of poor on-time running and a damaging industrial dispute in 2004.
After state politics (2006–12)
After leaving state parliament, Carr continued his involvement in public debate. He championed embryonic stem cell research, writing in The Daily Telegraph on 24 August 2006: "Stem cell research enjoys great public support. Let the doctors and scientists get on with the job. Their research might save a life in your family or mine". In another opinion piece he urged support for somatic cell nuclear transfer (sometimes known as 'therapeutic cloning').
He continued to advocate nature conservation, for example by calling for national park declarations over the River Red Gums. He wrote in 2009 that the river red gums are "Australian icons, part of our folklore, symbols of inland Australia".
He was an opponent of a charter of rights. Carr wrote in The Australian that, "if the public believed the executive arm of government were stifling freedoms, Australia slipping behind other democracies, there would have been a decided shove towards a human rights act". He continued "Instead…it sunk below the water, not leaving a slick of printer's ink".
Pursuing his interest in literacy he urged an opening of the Australian book market to permit the import of cheaper books.
The rise in the annual immigration intake brought Carr into the debate on what he called 'Australia's carrying capacity'. Carr argued that "The debate is about whether immigration should be running at very high levels. It's about whether we end up with a population of 36 million in 2050 in contrast to the previous expectation of 28.5 million".
Carr took up the issue of obesity and argued that chain restaurants should be forced by law to put calorie measurements next to menu items, that trans fats be banned as in some US states and food manufacturers be made to reduce salt content.
In retirement Carr made speeches at international conferences on climate change, Australia–China relations and multiculturalism.
In October 2005 Carr became a part-time consultant for Macquarie Bank, advising the company on policy, climate change, renewables and strategic issues with a focus on the United States and the People's Republic of China.
Carr continued pursuing his literary interests, interviewing authors and lecturing at the Sydney Writers' Festival. He appeared as a guest reporter for the ABC television show Foreign Correspondent, conducting an interview with friend Gore Vidal. In 2008 he attended the Australia 2020 Summit as part of the economy panel, and raised the issues of an Australian Republic and childhood obesity.
He has been a member of the board of directors at the United States Studies Centre since 2009 and is a charter member of the Chester A. Arthur Society, a US political trivia group named after the US president, 1881–1885. In 2009 he was appointed to the council of Voiceless, the animal protection institute. In 2010 he was appointed Patron of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Foundation and Patron of the Chifley home, Bathurst.
In April 2013, Fairfax journalist Philip Dorling identified Carr from a searchable database of declassified US State Department diplomatic cables as having criticised the Whitlam Government and provided information on internal Labor Party politics during discussions with the American consul-general in Sydney during the early 1970s. Asked about these contacts with US diplomats, Senator Carr said: "I was in my 20s. I could have said anything."
Federal politics (2012–2013)
On 2 March 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that Carr would be nominated to fill a casual vacancy in the Australian Senate caused by the resignation of Mark Arbib. This term would expire on 30 June 2014. Carr confirmed that he would seek election to the Senate for a further full six-year term and was subsequently nominated at the head of Labor's New South Wales Senate ticket for the 2013 poll.
Carr was formally chosen, albeit unelected, to fill the vacant Senate position by a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament on 6 March 2012. He was sworn as a Senator and Minister for Foreign Affairs on 13 March. Gillard also announced Carr would become the new Minister for Foreign Affairs in succession to Kevin Rudd.
As Foreign Minister, Carr's principal foci were Australia's successful bid for a temporary position on the United Nations Security Council, passage of a global Arms Trade Treaty, the Middle East peace process, the conflict in Syria and stronger relations between Australia and the Asia-Pacific particularly Myanmar, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
United Nations Security Council
Carr's term as Foreign Minister coincided with the final stages of Australia's campaign for a UN Security Council seat. The campaign, initiated in 2009, placed Australia in the ballot for a seat in the "Western Europe & Other" category, against European nations Luxembourg and Finland. In the context of the bid, Carr supported Security Council reform including permanent membership for Japan, Brazil and India and two permanent seats for Africa. Carr credited Australia's successful campaign to promotion of Australia's diplomatic links with African nations and environmental and cultural links with small island states in the Caribbean and Pacific. In October 2012 Australia was elected to the Security Council, winning an absolute majority of votes in the first round of balloting - the first time Australia had held a seat since 1985-86.
Carr advocated adoption by the UN of a global Arms Trade Treaty to track and reduce the supply of weapons to rogue states or terrorist groups. Carr twice travelled to New York to personally campaign for the treaty. The treaty was passed by the UN by 154 votes to 3.
Middle East peace process
Carr secured Australian Government support for abstention on a motion before the UN General Assembly to grant observer state status to the Palestinian Authority. This represented a shift from Australia's previous opposition to the motion, championed by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Carr argued that abstention on the motion allowed Australia to "reach out to moderate Palestinians who want a peaceful solution [to conflict with Israel] and say we're not opposing you." The UN motion to grant observer state status for the Palestinian Authority was ultimately carried by 138 votes to nine, with 41 abstentions.
In January 2013, in a joint communique with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Carr called for US leadership in resuming direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The communique also noted that both countries had voted to abstain on the UN motion on Palestinian status and that both viewed Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal under international law.
Closer to home, Carr worked to build stronger relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), holding in-country talks with all ten member states, twice attending the East Asia Summit and repeatedly emphasizing Australia's interest in regional convergence and co-operation. In 2012 Carr described the health and centrality of ASEAN as critical to Australia's security and prosperity, but warned against ASEAN nations falling into a "middle income trap" of lower growth as a consequence of institutional rigidity and a slowing of internal reform.
Carr also worked to restore global diplomatic relations with Myanmar following the Myanmar Government's release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and introduction of limited domestic political reform. Australian sanctions on Myanmar were lifted in 2012, though an arms embargo was maintained. Carr lobbied European and United States leaders to follow suit, with the European Union lifting its sanctions April 2013 and the US moving to increase engagement on trade and investment. Carr urged the Myanmar Government to continue its progress towards democracy, while welcoming the release of political prisoners and commitments to address ongoing ethnic and religious violence. He announced a doubling of Australia's foreign aid for Myanmar to $100 million by 2015, with a focus on education and maternal health. A further $9 million was provided to assist the Rohingya and other communities affected by civil conflict in Rakhine State.
Carr visited Indonesia on four occasions as Foreign Minister, raising issues such as people smuggling, aid, education links and trade. As Minister for AusAID, Carr oversaw an increase in assistance to Indonesia, to a total of more than $500 million a year for maternal health and education, and $47 million over 5 years to improve facilities in religious schools.
Engagement with China was the subject of Carr's first substantive speech in the role. Speaking to the CSIS Banyan Tree Leadership Forum in April 2012, Carr argued that China's economic and cultural expansion was not new. Rather it was "a return to the position of strength that China possessed before its decline during the Qing dynasty." Carr highlighted the sacrifices made by the Chinese people in achieving independence and noted the rapid pace of Chinese industrial growth:
It's a faster industrialisation and on a bigger scale than that of America itself in the 19th century. It happened faster, more people are affected, more dramatic effects for the world than even America's rise to industrial dominance. ... Few could be untouched by what it means for the Chinese people – liberated from poverty, historic poverty; few could be reluctant to see this renewed China take its place in the councils of the world.
On the first of three visits to China in May 2012 Carr faced questions from Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi who expressed concern about Australia's blocking of Huawei Technologies in its bid to supply equipment for the National Broadband Network, and about the November 2011 decision to have US Marines rotationally deployed in Darwin. Carr responded that the Huawei decision reflected Australia's right to make decisions on the resilience and security of its infrastructure. He argued Australia had a welcoming approach to Chinese investment, pointing to its 20-fold increase over the preceding five years and to 380 individual proposals from Chinese firms that had been approved in Australia since 2007. He argued the Marines presence reflected Australia's long-term Australian security relationships:
"Australia has had a small population, vast distances, a desire for great and powerful friends, and a sense of exposure to its north ever since Japan defeated Russia in 1905 and Alfred Deakin looked for support (from the US)."
Carr returned to China with Prime Minister Gillard in April 2013 for the annual Boao Forum for Asia, with a focus on strengthening bilateral relations. The Chinese Government agreed to the direct convertibility of Australian currency into yuan - only the third such agreement in China's history. Gillard and Carr also secured agreements for an annual leadership dialogue with their Chinese counterparts. China's President Xi Jinping was reported as intending to lift Australia-China relations "to a new level" following Forum discussions.
In a speech following the visit, Carr said Australia's achievements at the Forum had been to create the bilateral architecture needed to support future Australia-China relations - annual leaders and foreign minister's talks, and an ongoing economic dialogue between Australia's trade and competitiveness ministers and the Chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission. Carr praised China's leadership for being "determined, confident and pragmatic" about the continued economic and geopolitical rise of their country.
His third visit, in July 2013, was to central China where he opened Australia's fourth diplomatic post in China, a consulate-general in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu. At the opening Carr emphasised trade issues, highlighting Chinese investment in Australia and saying the new consulate would assist Australian firms in establishing a presence in western China.
Carr also represented Australia at the 2013 G-20 Saint Petersburg summit. His G20 interventions included as a member of a panel comprising Russian business and international labour, and in a leader's debate on chemical weapons in Syria. At a sideline meeting convened by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Carr also secured international agreement on a medical pact in Syria to protect hospitals and health care workers from targeted attacks and to maintain humanitarian access for medical NGO's and for the distribution of aid.
Carr's "medical plan" for Syria became an issue he pursued in international fora. The plan aimed to use international pressure to force an informal agreement between all parties in the Syrian civil war, to end the targeting of hospital or medical personnel, avoid the use of hospitals as bases and ensure the safe distribution of civilian medical aid. Speaking after Australia's successful push for the UN Security Council position in 2012, Carr said the plan represented his first priority in its new United Nations role. Australia's foreign aid for the Syrian crisis was increased to more than $100 million, focusing on shelter, medical support and child protection for refugees fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
In the absence of a ceasefire or UNSC action on Syria, Carr's plan received international support including from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Arab League and leaders at the 2013 G20 Summit.
As Carr had been elected to the Senate at the 2013 federal election, the timing of his resignation created a constitutional quirk whereby O'Neill had to be re-appointed to the Senate by the New South Wales Parliament after the commencement of the 2014–2020 Senate term. To mitigate the cost of recalling both houses of the parliament for a joint sitting (estimated at AUD $300,000), Premier Mike Baird convened a sitting on 2 July of two government members and two opposition members before the President of the Legislative Council to appoint O'Neill to the Senate for the term which began on 1 July.
Carr is the author of several books, including Thoughtlines (Viking, 2002), My Reading Life (Penguin, 2008), and Diary of a Foreign Minister (2014), which received a mixed reception with Carr ridiculed for his perceived arrogance.
In May 2003, author Marilyn Dodkin authored a biography, Bob Carr: the reluctant leader, partly based on Carr's private diaries and including his often uncomplimentary thoughts on various political personalities. A second biography, Bob Carr: A Self-Made Man, by Andrew West and Rachel Morris, was published in September 2003 by Harper Collins.
For his work in improving Australia–US relations he was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Fellow Award Scholarship. He donated the prize money to launch scholarships for the State's teachers to complete studies abroad. For his services to conservation he was given the World Conservation Union International Parks Merit Award and made a life member of the Wilderness Society.
In 2008 he was awarded the Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic), the second of five grades of the order, in recognition of his services to Italian culture.
On 5 July 2013, he was given the United Macedonian Diaspora's Macedonia Friendship Award for his friendship of the Australian-Macedonian community and his work to advance bilateral relations between Australia and Macedonia.
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