<gu-island name="KeyEventsCarousel" priority="feature" deferuntil="visible" props="{"keyEvents":[{"id":"667b75ad8f0876e3000947ae","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

You can follow along with our reporter on the ground in Saipan, Helen Davidson, here.

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Anthony Albanese is holding a press conference with the Solomon Islands prime minister Jeremiah Manele.

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He opens by speaking about the strength of the relationship:

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Australia and Pacific nations are well-placed to reach the security needs of our region.

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We regard security as the job of our Pacific family. As we demonstrated during the Solomon Islands’ historic joint elections in April, when Australia worked with Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Fiji, to assist the Royal Solomon Islands police force with election related security and logistics.

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And, prime minister, can I say that I very much look forward to working closely with you in the future.

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This has been an important visit for you. It’s been a visit in which you will see, go to the State of Origin tonight in Melbourne to experience some Australian culture, before visiting Brisbane as well.

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You and your delegation are welcome here. You are very familiar with Australia, having been here, as we discussed in our one-on-one meeting, as part of the public service engagement and cooperation that we have with exchanges.

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Those people-to-people relations are so important. And I see today as an important next step in a personal partnership, but also a partnership between our two nations that I want to see grow into the future.

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Manele and Anthony Albanese","caption":"Jeremiah Manele (left) and Anthony Albanese speak to the media during a press conference at Parliament House.","credit":"Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP"}}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1719362982000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"20.49 EDT","blockLastUpdated":1719364854000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"21.20 EDT","blockFirstPublished":1719363099000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"20.51 EDT","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"20.51","title":"Albanese and Solomon Islands PM speaking to media","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 25 Jun 2024 23.16 EDT","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Tue 25 Jun 2024 16.24 EDT"},{"id":"667b610a8f0876e300094735","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Over in the Senate, there has been a bit of drama around Nick McKim’s legislation giving the ACCC divestiture powers over the major supermarkets.

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The Liberals and Labor voted against it – but we had some Nats cross the floor.

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Ross Cadell and Matt Canavan both voted for the Greens legislation. No Nationals senator voted against it – the rest of the Nationals’ Senate team abstained.

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As McKim pointed out, the last time the Greens and the Nationals came together on an issue, the banking royal commission was called.

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Labor and Liberal, the Coles and Woolworths of Australian politics, have just voted down the Greens’ Bill to break up the supermarket duopoly.

Thanks to the Crossbench and Nationals senators who supported us. Not a single Nationals Senator opposed the Bill.

&mdash; Nick McKim (@NickMcKim) June 26, 2024

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Most eyes will be on the US district court in Saipan, but in Canberra, Anthony Albanese is meeting with the Solomon Islands prime minister, Jeremiah Manele.

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Solomon Islands’ budget is in a bit of peril, which will be one of the issues discussed at the bilateral meetings today.

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Earlier, Richard Marles told ABC radio:

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\n

I’ll be having lunch with Jeremiah Manele myself, and we constantly talk about ways in which we can support Solomon Islands. And obviously, we’ve been providing development assistance to Solomon Islands for decades. So, we’ll look at the requests that are being made by Solomon Islands and how we can help.

\n

I would say that we seek to be the partner of choice for Solomon Islands, and that includes in respect of security. We understand we don’t get rights here, that’s something we need to earn, but in prime minister Manele’s government, there is the opportunity for a new partnership with a new government, and we are very optimistic, optimistic about the prospects of being able to pursue that with him.

\n

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Albanese shakes hands with Jeremiah Manele","caption":"Anthony Albanese greets the Solomon Islands prime minister, Jeremiah Manele, at Parliament House in Canberra.","credit":"Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP"}}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1719359420000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"19.50 EDT","blockLastUpdated":1719360084000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"20.01 EDT","blockFirstPublished":1719359568000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"19.52 EDT","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"19.52","title":"Albanese meets with Solomon Islands prime minister in Canberra","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 25 Jun 2024 23.16 EDT","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Tue 25 Jun 2024 16.24 EDT"},{"id":"667b492b8f0876e300094684","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Yesterday, more details emerged about the deal the government struck with the Greens to water down vaping legislation, so that a prescription would not be required for adults buying vapes from pharmacists.

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Pharmacists were up in arms over the deal, saying they did not want to sell an unregulated product over the counter without a prescription, especially given the health harms vapes cause.

","elementId":"f6517c76-6f67-433b-9572-f6c335f1c8f5"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

But Labor was forced to do the deal with the Greens in order to get the Senate support required for the bill to pass, given the Nationals did not support the prescription model and the Liberals also had concerns.

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Overnight, pharmacy owner lobby group the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has claimed the Coalition now supports the original legislation – that is, to make vapes available via a prescription only.

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In a statement, the Guild said;

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\n

Given the Coalition will not oppose the Therapeutic Goods and Other Legislation Amendment (Vaping Reforms) Bill 2024, the proposed amendments to make nicotine-containing vapes available without a prescription are no longer required.

\n

The Guild urges the government to bring forward a vote on the original Bill, which has already passed the House of Representatives, and to dump their Green’s led amendments which open up greater access to nicotine-containing vapes.

\n

The original Bill now has the necessary political and stakeholder support to pass the Senate.”

\n

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Richard Marles:

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\n

Fatima Payman has expressed her view on this issue. She obviously has very strong [views] there’s no intention to see any consequences in relation to that … she’s not about to be expelled.

\n

… This is not a moment to be going around punishing people. I mean, since October 7 we have seen, obviously, a very complex issue, but a complete human tragedy play out in the Middle East.

\n

Back here in Australia, we’ve seen social cohesion put under enormous pressure.

\n

We want as a government, but I think across the country, all of us as Australians need to be doing everything we can to be bringing people together in this moment.

\n

I mean, that’s what we’re seeking to do in the community, but if we’re trying to live that, now’s not a time to be going around expelling people because they’re expressing particular opinions.

\n

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The Queensland government plans to establish a new greater glider forest park as part of a $200m plan to reform the state’s timber industry.

\n The premier, Steven Miles, will today announce he will ban logging in between 50,000 and 60,000 hectares of high value ecosystem within the Eastern Hardwoods region in Wide Bay, north of Brisbane.

\n In addition, a new park to protect the greater glider will be established in the south-east Queensland bioregion.

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glider","caption":"A greater glider.","credit":"Photograph: Paul Revie/Wildlife Preservation Society Queensland"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The state government will also appoint an advisory group to develop a 30-year plan for the sector. It will include representatives from the timber industry, forestry experts, the conservation sector, First Nations peoples, the Australian Workers’ Union, construction sector and outdoor recreational groups.

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It will spend $200m on a new “Queensland sustainable timber industry framework”, designed to serve the industry for the next three decades.

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Miles said:

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\n

Queensland’s timber industry is the backbone of the housing and building sectors.

\n That’s why I’m doing what matters to support timber workers and the industry to continue building our state, while also increasing our protected area estate.

\n The terms of reference released today map out our priorities as a government – that is, timber supply security, environmental protections, jobs and diverse employment opportunities.

\n

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Hello and welcome to your Wednesday politics live blog. Thank you to Martin for starting us off – you have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day now.

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It’s a four-coffee and chocolate-for-breakfast morning as we wait for Canberra to warm up.

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Ready? Let’s get into it.

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Australia’s university wage theft tally is on track to exceed $380m, new research shows, prompting calls from unions for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into underpayments of staff.

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The research, released by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) today, found $203m has been paid to or is in the process of being repaid to staff across 30 institutions, affecting more than 100,000 individuals.

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\n A further $168m worth of provisions for underpayments has been set aside by nine universities in recently released annual reports, while the union estimates a further $10m across three universities is yet to have been disclosed.
\n NTEU national president, Dr Alison Barnes, said wage theft at public universities had spiralled into a “national disgrace”.

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\n

Vice-chancellors and senior executives must be held to account for the industrial-scale wage theft that has become the shameful hallmark of Australian universities.

\n University staff will not accept any more empty platitudes – it’s time for vice-chancellors to finally face proper scrutiny for this awful behaviour. Wage theft is a crime. Who has lost their job? Who is going to jail?

\n

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Barnes will be joined by ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, at Parliament House today to jointly call for the parliamentary inquiry.

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The Coalition looks set to use Labor senator Fatima Payman’s decision to cross the floor yesterday afternoon as an attack on Anthony Albanese’s strength as a party leader.

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Payman crossed the floor in the upper house on Tuesday after a Greens motion to recognise Palestinian statehood was put to a vote.

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The major parties, and some crossbenchers, joined to vote against the motion, which lost 52 to 13.

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Payman joined the Greens and independent senators Lidia Thorpe and David Pocock, in a break with the party’s rules to vote as a collective bloc on caucus decisions. It is the first time a Labor member has broken ranks to cross the floor since 2005 and the first time since 1986 while Labor has been in power. Payman faces potential suspension or expulsion, though a government spokesperson said there is “no mandated sanction” in these circumstances.

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The Liberal senator Michaelia Cash told Sky News on Tuesday night it was Albanese’s “weak leadership” that led to these events.

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Cash said:

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\n

What Senator Payman did today was actually a challenge to Prime Minister Albanese’s leadership …

\n

You’ve got to look at why Senator Payman did this and it is the weak leadership that Anthony Albanese has shown since the terrorist attacks on October the 7th last year. It is little wonder that Senator Payman thought she had licence to cross the floor.

\n

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Our chief reporter in London, Daniel Boffey, and Guardian Australia’s Daniel Hurst have put together a read on how the deal to free Assange came about.

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Good morning and welcome to our rolling politics coverage. I’m Martin Farrer with some of the best overnight stories making news – but very soon Amy Remeikis will be along to helm proceedings from Canberra.

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Peter Dutton’s refusal to commit the Coalition to a 2030 emissions reduction target came after ambiguous comments in a newspaper interview were reported as a shift. Guardian Australia understands Dutton never intended to declare a new position, but misspoke during an interview with The Australian newspaper just over two weeks ago. He decided to go quiet for three days and then come out swinging, rather than reveal it was inadvertent.

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Also in politics, the Coalition is likely to attack Labor today over Senator Fatima Payman’s decision yesterday to cross the floor to back a Greens motion on recognising Palestinian statehood. More on that soon.

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Julian Assange arrived in Bangkok overnight (pictured) and in a few hours is due to appear in a court on the US-controlled island of Saipan, where he is expected to be sentenced on one espionage charge before making his way back to Australia. His plane landed on the remote island just minutes ago. In the meantime there’s more reaction as human rights advocates in the UK said the country’s next government must push the US for reassurance it will not pursue journalists again for publishing classified information.

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The headteacher of the top Sydney school embroiled in a row over becoming co-educational has written to parents and alumni expressing disappointment with a group of people within the school’s community “whose behaviour is inconsistent with our school culture and our values”. The head of Newington College, Michael Parker, said in his email that a “campaign of deliberate negativity” had “undeniably impacted the broader community’s understanding of who we are and what we stand for” although he did not specifically mention the opposition to the coed plan. More coming up.

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Key events

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Liberal MP Bridget Archer and Greens senator David Shoebridge also speak.

Archer:

I would like to echo what Andrew Wilkie has said. While this is a terrific outcome for Julian Assange, we must not lose sight of the fact that all of the issues that we have been raising for some time about what this means for democracy and for press freedom, haven’t gone away.

My encouragement would be to all of those people that have supported Julian to this point, continue to get behind the stories. To ensure that our democracy is not eroded by this kind of overreach we have seen in relation to Julian Assange.

Shoebridge:

While Julian Assange will be coming home and walking free with his family as he should, David McBride is in jail just a few short kilometres away from here for also being a whistleblower about war crimes.

And Richard Boyle faces court for exposing their wrongdoing of the ATO.

Maybe we can all join together across politics and celebrate that freedom of Julian Assange as we should but realise there is so much more to do because we need a whistleblower commission here: David McBride to walk free and we could attract Richard Boyle should never be prosecuted by his own government telling the truth.

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Updated at 23.16 EDT

Labor MP Josh Wilson speaks on Assange

Wilson, who was a member of the parliamentary group in support of Julian Assange acknowledges Andrew Wilkie’s steadfast advocacy and the public momentum.

He then turns to the government:

Without a shadow of doubt, the most significant shift was in the approach the Australian government from the time that Anthony Albanese was the leader of opposition through to his prime ministership, he made it clear that enough was enough.

And when you have that change of approach and you have the steady and careful behind-the-scenes persistent resolute work of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister and the Attorney-General, not to mention a couple of key and potent diplomats in High Commissioner Stephen Smith, and ambassador Kevin Rudd, that makes today, as a result, Julian Assange is free.

More than anything, it will be uplifting for millions of people, millions of Australians, to think today that embraced short space of time, Julian Assange will stand free as an Australian citizen on Australian soil.

I hope he does what I would do, take himself for a walk on the beach, hug his wife and kids and spend time with them and his family.

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Updated at 23.13 EDT

Andrew Wilkie continues:

I will flag, though, one alarming issue. That is today, on US territory, a precedent was set for the charging and conviction of a journalist for doing the job. That is a really alarming precedent.

It is the sort of thing we would expect in an authoritarian or totalitarian country, it is not what we would expect from the United States or a similar country like Australia.

I think it sends a chill down the spine of journalist worldwide that this precedent has been set and it means that there is more work to do to push for media freedom and protections for journalists so that they can do their job.

At the end of the day, Julian Assange is a Walkley award-winning Australian journalist who did his job and we have all seen Collateral Damage. Probably will go down in history as the most significant video released by media in the history of media until this day. And we are all better informed thanks to WikiLeaks.

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Updated at 23.14 EDT

Andrew Wilkie is speaking about his years of advocacy for Julian Assange:

For many years, a series of Australian governments were either disinterested in Julian Assange or downright hostile. It is pleasing that this government was the government, finally, that listen to the community and took up the challenge and did a lot, a real lot, of difficult, quiet, behind-the-scenes work with foreign governments to bring about today.

I would also like to acknowledge the millions of people, run around the world, we have rallied for Julian for years. For the years that he had been at Belmarsh prison and the seven years in Ecuadorian embassy before that. Today is their day as much as it is, more than day therefore any politicians in this country. I acknowledge them.

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Updated at 23.15 EDT

Here is what Julian Assange’s longest serving legal counsel, Jennifer Robinson had to say outside the court:

US prosecution of Assange ‘sets a dangerous precedent’ says lawyer Jennifer Robinson – video

Further to the news Victoria will be closing two prisons, our reporter Nino Bucci points out that it is a fairly new decision:

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The Victorian government specifically told me there were no plans to close Port Phillip Prison when I asked them in December while working on this piece. I guess a lot can change in six months!https://t.co/BhqP0TbgvM

&mdash; Nino Bucci (@ninobucci) June 26, 2024

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The Victorian government specifically told me there were no plans to close Port Phillip Prison when I asked them in December while working on this piece. I guess a lot can change in six months!https://t.co/BhqP0TbgvM

— Nino Bucci (@ninobucci) June 26, 2024

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has responded to today’s inflation news:

Inflation is still higher than we would like, but monthly inflation is less than half its peak and much lower than the 6.1 per cent we inherited from the Coalition.

As we’ve said many times before the monthly CPI number is volatile and can jump around because not every item in the basket is updated each month.

Today’s annual number was dragged higher by fuel prices and the impact of base effects, which are the result of a large fall in month-to-month inflation in May 2023 impacting the annual May 2024 number.

The ABS’s numbers that strip out the monthly volatility showed a welcome moderation. Monthly CPI excluding volatile items and holiday travel moderated to 4.0 per cent in May, from 4.1 per cent in April.

We know people are under substantial pressure, but the ABS clearly confirmed again today that inflation would be even higher if it wasn’t for our cost-of-living policies.

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Updated at 22.42 EDT

The US embassy in Canberra statement on Julian Assange includes:

At today’s proceeding, Assange admitted to his role in the conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act and received a court-imposed 62-month time-served sentence, reflecting the time he served in UK prison as a result of the US charges.

Following the imposition of sentence, he will depart the United States for his native Australia. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Assange is prohibited from returning to the United States without permission.

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Updated at 22.43 EDT

Victoria will shut two prisons

AAP reports facilities to close include a privately-run maximum security jail, which will shift inmates to a $1.1bn facility that has been sitting idle for almost two years.

Port Phillip Prison will close by the end of 2025 and the 59-year-old Dhurringile Prison will close within months, corrections minister Enver Erdogan announced on Wednesday.

Port Phillip Prison is privately operated by G4S and has been open since September 1997 with a capacity of 1,087 inmates.

The state’s contract with G4S was renewed in 2015 and agreement extensions were expected to continue for 20 years, depending on performance.

Workers at both closing prisons will be given the opportunity to work elsewhere within Victoria’s justice system.

Inmates at Dhurringile will likely move to the Beechworth minimum security prison.

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Updated at 23.11 EDT

Julian Assange has left the Saipan courthouse and is on his way to the airport

We are awaiting the Australian press conference with the parliamentarians who were part of a parliamentary group lobbying for his release (which was seperate to the official diplomatic efforts made by the government)

US pursued ‘journalism as a crime’, lawyer tells press conference as Julian Assange freed – video
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Updated at 22.36 EDT

What are the drug schedules?

Just to be clear there, Schedule 2 drugs are the ones which are on the shelves at the pharmacist – you can just pick them up and go to the register, no questions asked.

Schedule 3 is behind the counter, where you have to have a conversation with a pharmacist to be allowed the drugs.

Schedule 4 is prescription only drugs.

(Schedule 1 is as I have just been informed, not in use. )

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Updated at 22.43 EDT

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