Laws: We're Australia's Dannevirke

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2013
sevensharp
TVNZ

Young guns: Seven Sharpnf presenters, from left, Greg Boyed, Ali Mau and Jesse Mulligan, may have attracted ridicule, but they’re pitching their show at those who usually see news as stodgy small-screen fare.

laws
Sunday Star-Times columnist Michael Laws: The partners of all criminals should be held liable if they know of their spouse's illegal activities.

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The advent of TVNZ's new current affairs flagship Seven Sharp has occasioned a fair bit of censure and ridicule this past week, but its creators won't care.

They are not interested in the opinions and perspectives of middle-aged and elderly New Zealand - their aim is to satisfy a younger market who find traditional news to be stodge. This younger market doesn't read newspapers either - they will surf the net this morning to get their updates.

Which leaves us middle-aged in something of a quandary. If no-one wants us as a marketing demographic, then what do we do? Accept the mainstream infotainment imperative, or decamp elsewhere?

Increasingly, middle New Zealand is asking itself that same question about even staying in New Zealand.

The lure of Australia is now so magnetic that it affects every part of the Kiwi workforce - academic, professional, skilled and labour. Even the military, as record numbers of personnel decamp for the better pay and conditions of another flag.

It is difficult - as a middle-aged New Zealander - not to feel pessimistic as to our country's economic future. It seems clear now that we are a mere province to the metropolitan attraction of Australia, and that our best, brightest and most aspirational are always going to be going.

We are never going to be catching up, or closing the gap. That air of fatalism now pervades government policy too. The race to be competitive for our own people has been lost. New Zealand has become Dannevirke.

To be fair, most people my generation won't go. We are past that bold a step: As the testosterone drains away, so does our sense of adventure. And with the kids grown up, the same imperative does not exist.

Which is the worry: It will soon be just us old fogeys left with the young who aren't bright or brave enough to go. I guess Seven Sharp must be aimed at the latter.

Although there is one thing that the provinces can always offer. A cheaper, more relaxed lifestyle that makes the raising of younger children much easier. That is probably New Zealand's salvation as well - with the exception of Auckland. The latter has house prices that only migrants can afford. No wonder its ethnicity is unique.

Provincial living is very different for middle New Zealand. We get fat, we drink too much, we spend way too much time on Facebook and then watch TV. And we wonder if we should have gone to Oz - where we'd be doing exactly the same thing, except with more flies and more money.

There are other things we don't get either, most especially the celebrity churn. Our kids want to be reality TV stars, rather than stars. The latter requires talent and hard work - the former none at all. We watch our media presenters getting younger, less articulate and less informed.

And we moan. Which is something we middle-aged grumps do well - whine and whinge and complain that the world is going too fast and too far.

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Which, of course, it is.

mlaws@radiolive.co.nz

- Sunday Star Times

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