UN human rights advocate calls for state to scrap anti-protest laws

DAVID KILLICK, Mercury October 19, 2016


The Mercury has an article quoting a UN Human Rights Advocate commenting on the Tasmanian Government's anti-protest laws:


"Michel Forst, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, visited Hobart earlier this month as part of a national tour.

“From my discussions with the Tasmanian Government, it has become clear that the Government had prioritised business and government resource interests over the democratic rights of individuals to peacefully protest,” he said.

“I reminded the Government that human rights defenders have a legitimate right to promote and protect all human rights, including the right to a healthy environment, regardless of whether their peaceful activities are seen by some as frustrating development projects.

“I therefore recommend that the laws criminalising peaceful protests are urgently reviewed and rescinded.”


Read the full story on themercury.com.au here.

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Big Scrub best conservation festival on the planet


The Byron Echo has a report on the Big Scrub Rainforest Day, where Bob was the keynote speaker.

"As usual Bob Brown had everyone feeling warm and fuzzy, particularly when he said he felt that if there is a festival on planet earth that is doing more to help rainforests than the Big Scrub, then he doesn’t know about it."

Read the full story on echo.net.au here.

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Legal win for Tasmanian anti-mining groups fighting two Tarkine proposals


Tasmanian conservationists have won the right to find out why previous state governments granted mining leases in the Tarkine region.

The Supreme Court in Hobart has dismissed an appeal by the State Government in an ongoing dispute with the Tarkine National Coalition.

Conservationists were seeking the reasoning behind decisions made by both Labor and Liberal governments which gave Venture Minerals Limited leases at Mount Lindsay and Livingstone in the Tasmania's north-west.


In an unanimous decision earlier this year, the full bench of the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the environmentalist group.

But the Tasmanian Government challenged that ruling, arguing the group did not have a sufficient interest in the area to make them a "person aggrieved" which would then justify it obtaining the statement.

Read the full story on the ABC here.


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Dear Minister Frydenberg

Geoff Cousins (president of the Australian Conservation Foundation) wrote an interesting article in thesaturdaypaper.com.au.


Congratulations on your appointment as minister for the environment and energy. The bringing together of these two portfolios for the first time could present a substantial opportunity for sound policy development in Australia.

 It must be a considerable relief for you to emerge from the gloom of the resources portfolio, away from the problems of the decline of the fossil fuel sector and the return of the killer black lung disease, into the bright light of nature and our rivers, mountains, forests and reefs. Why, you could even be the minister who saves the Great Barrier Reef – but more of that later.

Read the full article on thesaturdaypaper.com.au here.


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The Laws of Ecology and the Survival of the Human Species

An Essay on Survival in the 21st Century by Captain Paul Watson, Founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Captain Paul Watson. twitter.com/captpaulwatson

I was raised in a small fishing village on the Passamaquoddy Bay in New Brunswick, Canada and I still vividly remember the way things were in the Fifties.  The way things were then is not the way things are now.

I’m not talking about technological, industrial or scientific progress. I’m referring to the health and stability of eco-systems. What was once strong is now weak. What was once rich in diversity is now very much the poorer.

I have been blessed or perhaps cursed with the gift of near total recall. I see the images of the past as clearly as the days that were. As a result it has been difficult for me to adapt to diminishment. I see the shells on the beaches that are no longer there, the little crabs under the rocks, now gone, the schools of fishes, the pods of dolphins, the beaches free of plastic.

I began travelling the world in 1967 - hitch-hiking and riding the rails across Canada; joining the Norwegian merchant marine; crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans; travelling through Japan, Iran, Mozambique and South Africa, working as a tour guide in Turkey and Syria, co-founding the Greenpeace Foundation in 1972 and in 1977; founding the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Many things that I saw then, no longer exist - or have been severely damaged, changed and diminished.

In the Sixties we did not buy water in plastic bottles. In the Sixties the word sustainable was never used in an ecological context, and except for Rachel Carson there were very few with the vision to see into the future, where we were going, what we were doing.

But slowly, awareness crept into the psyche of more and more people. People began to understand what the word ecology meant. We saw the creation of Earth Day, and in 1972, the first global meeting on the environment in Stockholm, Sweden that I covered as a journalist.

Gradually, the insight into what we are doing became more prevalent and to those who understood, the price to be paid was to be labeled radicals, militants, and a new word – eco-terrorist.

The real ‘crime’ of eco-terrorism was not burning down a ski lodge, toppling a power line or spiking a tree. Such things are only outbursts of desperation and frustration. The real crime is thought, perception, and imagination. In other words, the questioning of the modern economic, corporate and political paradigm.

The word eco-terrorism should be more accurately used for the destruction caused by progress like the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal or the BP Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico

In the Seventies the late Robert Hunter along with Roberta Hunter, Dr. Patrick Moore, David Garrick, Rod Marining and myself observed and wrote down the three laws of ecology. What we realized was that these laws are the key to the survival of biodiversity on the planet and also the key to the survival of the human species. We realized that no species could survive outside of the three basic and imperative ecological laws.

The law of diversity: The strength of an eco-system is dependent upon the diversity of species within it.

The law of interdependence: All species are interdependent with each other.

The law of finite resources: There are limits to growth and limits to carrying capacity.

The increase of population in one species leads to the increase in consumption
of resources by that species which leads to diminishment of diversity of other species which in turn leads to diminishment of interdependence among species.

For example, increasing diminishment of phytoplankton populations in the sea is causing diminishment of many other species and it has caused a 40% diminishment in oxygen production since 1950. Diminishment of whale populations has contributed to the diminishment of phytoplankton populations because whale feces are a major source of nutrients (esp. iron and nitrogen) for phytoplankton.

The planet simply cannot tolerate 7.5 billion (and growing) primarily meat and fish eating necrovores. The killing of 65 billion domestic animals each year is contributing more greenhouse gases to the planet than the entire transportation industry. The industrial stripping of life from the sea is causing unprecedented biodiversity collapse in marine eco-systems.

Ecological systems globally are collapsing from coral reefs to rainforests because humanity is exploiting resources far beyond the capacity of eco-systems to create and renew natural resources.

Diminishment of eco-systems is also leading to the breakdown of human social structures causing global conflict in the form of wars and domestic violence. Terrorism is not the cause of society’s problems, it is merely a symptom.

Humans are compromised by medieval paradigms like territorial dominance, hierarchical desires and superstitious beliefs combined with primitive primate behavior like greed and fear.

The fishing village that I lived in as a child is no longer a fishing village. The relative innocence of our lives as children of the Fifties and Sixties is no more. The African bush, the Arctic tundra, the marine reserve of the Galapagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazonian rainforests that I once traveled through are no longer what they recently were.

Humans have this amazing ability to adapt to diminishment. It’s a trait that was exceptionally useful when we lived as hunter-gatherers. We adapted to food shortages, to changes in the weather and to the world as it evolved around us. Today we are trying to adapt to the destruction brought on by ourselves and that adaption is taking the form of more and more control by governments and corporations and a blind reliance on corporate technologies.

We no longer have the empathy we once felt. I vividly remember the events of October 23rd, 1958. I was seven years old on the day of the Springhill Mine Disaster in Nova Scotia. 75 men died and 99 were rescued and I remember crying for the fate of people I did not know and feeling excited every time a miner was brought to the surface alive. I no longer have that capacity. Perhaps I lost it when I became an adult, or perhaps society no longer has room for such emotions.

Disaster happened and we grieved for people we did not know. A few weeks ago nearly 100 people were viciously murdered within a few kilometres of where I live when a deranged man mowed them down with a large truck in Nice, France. A few days ago a priest was beheaded in France. Every week brings us more stories about mass killings in the Middle East, Africa, America etc. It’s a worldwide pain-fest of chaos and violence and yet it is met with complacency for the most part and a predictable Facebook posting of – ‘say a prayer for Paris, or Orlando, or Nice, or Beirut, or Istanbul’ in a litany of self-indulgent adaptation to tragedy, before being quickly forgotten.

This is not the world of my childhood. We remembered the horrors of World War II with real emotion. I remember talking with both World War I and World War II veterans and feeling their pain. Today it’s just another short-term item on the news, in a world that seeks to escape through movies, celebrities, video games and increasingly more fanatical religious fervor.

Here is the reality. As human populations increase, the consumption of resources increases with it. But because resources are finite and the rate of renewables is
overcome by demand, this can only lead to one result – the collapse of resource availability.

And because we are literally stealing resources from other species, this will lead to
diminishment of species and habitats, which will contribute to even more resource diminishment.

At COP 21, I called for an end to worldwide government subsidies for industrialized fishing and at least a 50-year moratorium on commercial industrialized fishing. That solution was not given a moment’s thought at a conference that did not even take into account the imperative role of the Ocean in addressing climate change.

My opinion of COP 21 is that governments were not looking for solutions. They were looking for the appearance of solutions. They certainly did not want to hear about solutions from people like me. They want solutions that are accompanied by jobs and profit. The one thing they do not want is any form of economic sacrifice.

I also do not believe that the majority of humanity - certainly not the leadership -understand the true gravity of the situation. There are six viewpoints concerning climate change: 1. Denial 2. Acceptance, with the view of it being a positive development. 3. Acceptance with the belief that science and technology will save the day. 4. Acceptance, but refusal to fully appreciate the consequences. 5. Apathy. And 6. Acceptance with the resolve to find real solutions.

Those who are in denial have vested self interests in doing so, motivated primarily by greed or ignorance. My old Greenpeace colleague Patrick Moore sees climate change as an opportunity for longer growing seasons and better weather. (He lives in Canada and I don’t think he’s really thought it through.) Others like Elon Musk see our salvation in science, in moving off-world or developing artificial eco-systems on Earth. Most responsible world leaders recognize the problem but are too politically-impotent to address it with realistic solutions because those solutions would not be politically popular. And as with everything, the majority of the world is apathetic and too self-absorbed with entertaining themselves (developed world) or surviving (underdeveloped world).

On this path we are on now, the future is somewhat predictable. More resource wars, more poverty, more accumulation of wealth by the minority of privileged people, more disease, more civil strife and with the collapse of biodiversity – global mass starvation, and pestilence.

The rich tapestry of all our cultures and all our achievements in science and the arts hangs by threads linked to biodiversity.

If the bees are diminished, our crops are diminished. If the forests are diminished, we are diminished. If phytoplankton dies, we die!  If the grasses die, we die!

We exist because of the geo-engineering contributions of millions of diverse species that keep our life support systems running. From bacteria to whales, from algae to the redwoods. If we undermine the foundations of this planetary life-support system, all that we have ever created will fall. We will be no more.

We made the mistake of declaring war on nature, and because of our technologies it looks like we are going to win this war. But because we are a part of nature, we will destroy ourselves in the process. Our enemy is ourselves and we are slowly becoming aware of that indisputable fact. We are destroying ourselves in a fruitless effort to save the image of what we believe ourselves to be.

In this war, we are slaughtering through direct or indirect exploitation - millions of species and reducing their numbers to dangerously low levels while at the same time increasing human numbers to dangerously high levels.

We are fighting this war against nature with chemicals, industrialized equipment, ever increasing extraction technologies (like fracking) and repression against any and all voices that rise up in dissent.

In our wake over the past two centuries we have left a trail of billions of bodies. We have tortured, slain, abused and wasted so many lives, obliterated entire species; and reduced rich diverse eco-systems to lifeless wastelands as we polluted the seas, the air and the soil - with chemicals, heavy metals, plastic, radiation and industrialized farm sewage.

We were once horrified by the possibility of a Chernobyl or a Fukushima. But the accidents happened and we adapted and accepted - now we are complacent.

In the process we are becoming sociopathic as a species. We are losing the ability to express empathy and compassion. We idolize soldiers, hunters, and resource developers without giving a thought to their victims. We revel in violent fantasies hailing two- dimensional fantasy killers as heroes. We have become increasingly more Darwinian in our outlook that the weak (other species) must perish so that the strong (ourselves) may survive. We forget that Darwinism recognizes the laws of ecology and we cannot pick and choose when it comes to the laws of nature because in the end nature controls us, we do not control nature.

The consequences of our actions are not going to happen centuries from now. They are going to happen within this century. Oceanic ecosystems are collapsing – now! The planet is getting warmer – now! Phytoplankton is being diminished now!

To be blunt – the planet is dying now, and we are killing it!

From what I have experienced and from what I see there is only one thing that can prevent us from falling victim to the consequences of ignoring the laws of ecology.

We must shake off the anthropocentric mindset and embrace a biocentric understanding of the natural world. We can do this because we have wonderful teachers in indigenous communities worldwide who have lived biocentric lifestyles for thousands of years just as our species all once did. We need to learn to live in harmony with other species.

We need to establish a moratorium on industrialized fishing, logging and farming.

We need to stop producing goods that have no intrinsic value – all the useless plastic baubles for entertainment and self-indulgence. We need to stop mass-producing plastic that is choking our global seas. We need to stop injecting poisons into the soil and dumping toxins into the sea. We need to abolish cultural practices that destroy life for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves.

Of course it won't be easy but do we really want the epitaph for our species to be, “Well we needed the jobs?”

Without ecology there is no economy.

I am not a pessimist and I’ve never been prone to pessimistic thoughts. There are solutions, and we see people of compassion, imagination and courage around us working to make this a better world - devoting themselves to protecting species and habitats; finding organic agricultural alternatives; and developing more eco-friendly forms of energy production. Innovators, thinkers, activists, artists, leaders and educators - these people are amongst us and their numbers are growing.

It is often said that the problems are overwhelming and the solutions are impossible. I don’t buy this. The solution to an impossible problem is to find an impossible solution.

It can be done. In 1972, the very idea that Nelson Mandela would one day be President of South Africa was unthinkable and impossible - yet the impossible became possible.

It’s never easy but it is possible and possibilities are achieved through courage, imagination, passion and love.

I learned from the Mohawks years ago that we must live our lives by taking into account the consequences of our every action on all future generations of all species.

If we love our children and grandchildren we must recognize that their world will not be our world. Their world will be greatly diminished and unrecognizable from the world of our childhoods. Each and every child born in the 21st Century is facing challenges that no human being has ever faced in the entire history of our species:

Emerging pathogens from the permafrost, (Just last month an anthrax virus from a recently thawed reindeer carcass broke out killing 1,500 reindeer and hospitalizing 13 people in Russia.) Eruptions of methane opening huge craters in the earth in Siberia, mass-accelerated extinction of plants and animals, pollution, wars and more wars, irrational violence in the form of individual, religious and state terrorism, the collapse of entire eco-systems.

This is not doom and gloom fear mongering. It is simply a realistic observation of the consequences of our deliberately ignoring of the laws of ecology. I call it the Cassandra Principle.

Cassandra was the prophetess of ancient Troy whose curse was the ability to see the future and to have everyone dismiss her prophecies. No one listened to her, instead they ridiculed her. Yet she was right. All that she predicted came to pass and Troy was destroyed.

Years ago I had a critic in the media label me as a doom and gloom Cassandra. I replied, “Maybe, but don’t forget one thing. Cassandra was right.”

And over the years I have made predictions (that were ridiculed and dismissed) that have come true. In 1982 I publicly predicted the collapse of the North Atlantic Cod fishery. It happened a decade later. In 1978 I predicted the destruction of one half of the African elephant population in Defenders magazine. I was wrong. Some two thirds of the population have been destroyed. In 1984, I predicted ecological destruction by salmon farms including the spreading of viruses to wild salmon populations. Every prediction was based on observation with reference to the laws of ecology and every prediction was dismissed.

Nothing has changed. Today I am predicting the death of worldwide coral reef eco-systems by 2025, the total collapse of worldwide commercial fishing operations by 2030; and the emergence of more virulent viral diseases in the coming decades. It does not take any exceptional foresight to predict that war will be the major business of the next half- century, as well as the rise of more authoritarian governments.

Recently my old friend Rod Marining also a co-founder of Greenpeace said to me: "The transformation of human consciousness on a mass scale can not happen, unless there are two factors, first, a huge mass visual death threat to survival of our species and two, the threat of the loss of a people’s jobs or their values.  Once theses two factors are in place humans begin to transform their thinking over night."

I have seen the future written in the patterns of our behavior, and it is not a pleasant future, in fact it is not much of a future at all.

The four horses have arrived. As death sits astride the pale horse, the other three horses of pestilence, famine and war and terrorism are stampeding at full gallop toward us while our backs are turned away from them. And when they trample us, we may look up from our latest entertainment triviality to see ourselves in the dust of the ecological apocalypse.

I also see the possibility of salvation. By listening to the words and observing the actions of indigenous people. By looking into the eyes of our children. By stepping outside the circle of anthropocentrism. By understanding that we are part of the Continuum. By refusing to participate in the anthropocentric illusion. By embracing biocentrism and fully understanding the laws of ecology, and the fact that these laws cannot - must not - be ignored if we wish to survive.

Captain Paul Watson

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Bob comments on article in The Australian : "Wilderness bargain for power 'erodes world heritage process'"

The Australian. theaustralian.com.au

The Australian's 'Environment editor' Graham Lloyd, fresh from his recent tirades against Australian scientists' claims that the Great Barrier Reef is being damaged by climate change, has today written about that fraction of Tasmania's World Heritage value forests which has been protected (see above). Here are a few notes on Lloyd's article:

  1. Apparently oblivious of the Australian journalists' code of ethics, Lloyd has not contacted me about the claims.
  2. I have no objection to an FOI request for letters: I advocate FOI and think it should be extended to the private sector including News Corporation. Mr Lloyd has not published his secret view on this proposal.
  3. Lloyd's 'brewing storm' is in his own teacup. The pity is that, in the period leading up to the establishment of government in 2010, I and the Greens failed to move the Gillard government to fulfil its obvious obligation to have Tasmania's forests nominated for the World Heritage status.
  4. Apparently logging aficionado Andrew Denman, who also doesn't contact me about this issue, is alarmed that the integrity of World Heritage has been undermined by a deal to have the nomination go forward. This is the same Andrew Denman who wants those forests and their wildlife not just undermined but open to destruction.
  5. The question arises: where was Mr Denman in recent decades when millions of tonnes of specialty (rainforest) timbers were trashed and burned in the industrialised logging for eucalypt woodchips? It was the environment movement which tackled Labor and Liberal politicians about this obscene waste of the resource which he now bemoans is missing.
  6. Mr Lloyd's most devastating revelation is that 'Dr Brown and former Greens leader Christine Milne have boasted publicly about using negotiations for minority government both in Tasmania and federally to boost environmental outcomes.' I must call Christine to tell her he is on to us. I hope his enquiries don't also uncover the fact that we achieved a world-leading carbon trading scheme and fund for renewable energy in conjunction with PM Gillard.
  7. Unlike the agreements for government in Tasmania in 1989 and in Canberra in 2010 which we Greens insisted be made public, the current agreement between the Liberals and Nationals is one on the nation's most outrageously kept secrets. There's a document for Mr Lloyd to gainfully pursue.

Bob Brown

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Cutting Through Political Scrub

Lake Geeves Opinion piece by Jen Brown

Federation Peak. Photo: Bob Brown

Lake Geeves and Federation Peak are stunning. It's easy to see why people want to visit them.  I've braved the trip to Federation Peak towering above Lake Geeves on three occasions, but only made the summit once. Unforgiving weather stopped me the other times.

Standing on the summit of Federation Peak is extraordinarily rewarding and the view down to Lake Geeves is breathtaking. There can't be many people standing atop 'Fedders' who wouldn't think, "gee I'd like to visit that lake down there". But most people think again after considering the kilometres of horizontal scrub between the Federation Peak track and Lake Geeves.  In the words of the wilderness legend Deny King: "so fierce were the stands of the dreaded horizontal and bauera scrub that the average travel time was four kilometer's a day and this reduced at times to only one."

The walk to the summit is usually two or three solid days (if you're lucky) of hauling a loaded backpack up, over and under slippery wet logs, or pushing through wet, boggy button grass plains. On a lucky year you might get one or two weeks between January and March where the waist-deep bogs dry up to knee depth and the weather stays calm enough to make your trip slightly less unrelenting.  

To cut a new track to Lake Geeves would be a serious challenge. It is possible but, for what? Who plans to be in charge of the track upgrade and maintenance? Parks and Wildlife?

Better get in line, behind the equally stunning, already existing tracks in need of upgrade.

The existing Port Davey track has not been upgraded since the bushfires of 2013. Two bridges require rebuilding and a number of burnt-out 'duck boards' and drainage steps make the mud relentless. At the Spring River crossing, the lack of toilets, or even simple signage about minimal impact, has caused a health hazard by inexperienced visitors.

The track to Lake Judd below Mt Anne has deteriorated significantly over the past five years. At a minimum it needs new drainage - perhaps 'duck boards' are wishful thinking.

The popular South Coast track over the South Cape Range has neck deep mud that no one can pass through, like a good minimal impact walker should. The result is forcing an ever widening track. This track is a leg fracture waiting to happen for an inexperienced walker.

The Parks and Wildlife Service have had funding drained out of them, so understandably maintenance has needed to go to high use areas like Freycinet and Cradle Mountain.

The argument is that if Lake Geeves is so beautiful, why couldn't it be a high use area? The answer to that is no. Tasmania's Southwest Wilderness is wild. The weather for the vast majority of the year is wet, windy and unpleasant. Track maintenance in these areas is difficult and expensive. The drive to a track start is not easy, the distance from the nearest services is significant.

An entirely new track would need to be cut to Lake Geeves because the existing track to Federation Peak is a significant distance away.  The walk would scar the largest intact river system in Tasmania, the New River catchment basin, that remains entirely free of post-colonial human disturbance. It is purely wild country, and as remote as anywhere in the Southwest from roads, settlements, logging and dams.

If you need a walk to a stunning lake flanked by an incredible cliff face, try Lake Tahune at Frenchman's Cap. The existing upgraded track funded by Dick Smith's million dollar donation was completed last year and it makes for amazing walking, while the existing facilities are beautiful.

Let's keep those impulsive ideas that come to mind atop a mountain - like building a track to Lake Geeves - right where they belong:  in our heads. Let's put the money where it belongs, into existing Parks and Wildlife track management.

But first and foremost, let's concentrate our efforts on protecting the Wilderness World Heritage Area from climate change, so future generations can continue to marvel at its beauty.

Jen Brown

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Winter on The Blade

Article in Vertical Life, 25 May 2016


...perhaps the most important motive behind Winter on the Blade is to promote the conservation of such an iconic, yet vulnerable area. Andy’s intent for the expedition and the subsequent film is to display the pure, untamed nature of South West Tasmania, as well as inspire others to connect with the wilderness and with their own crazy ambitions.

“Not many people can relate to it,” explains Andy, “I’m just hoping that people might see our story and be inspired to care about the natural environment a bit more, and to actually challenge themselves to follow their dreams.”

It was this focus on preserving and promoting the natural landscape that eventually won over alternative contributors which helped make the project a reality. In ensuring the minimisation of environmental impact, the team worked closely with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service who were quite positive in their co-operation.

Additionally, Szollosi was able to secure funding from through the Bob Brown Foundation, a non-profit fund whose vision is “to protect Australia’s wild and scenic natural places of ecological and global significance.”...


Read the full article on Vertical Life here.


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Bill McKibben: The time has come to turn up the heat on those who are wrecking planet Earth

An interesting question is, what are you waiting for?

Global warming is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced as a civilisation — certainly you want to act to slow it down, but perhaps you’ve been waiting for just the right moment.

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UN delegation told of environmentalists’ wilderness logging concerns

An article in themercury.com.au 24 Nov 2015

"ENVIRONMENTALISTS have used their half an hour with a UN heritage delegation to ram home the message that no logging should be allowed in the Tasmanian Wilderness."

Read the full story on themercury.com.au.

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