Ben Uffendell: Time to sell New Zealand to burger chain

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Prime Minister John Key (r) and Labour Leader David Cunliffe go head to head at the TVNZ leader's debate.
Prime Minister John Key (r) and Labour Leader David Cunliffe go head to head at the TVNZ leader's debate.

Nation, I'm bored. And not just because I watched this week's leaders' debate, but mainly for that reason.

One month ago, our country's largest provider of phones and internets changed its name from Telecom to Spark, a rebranding that would, with one ingenious stroke, erase all memories of previous horrible experiences with the company.

Unfortunately, most New Zealanders have yet to have such a stroke. But in any case, the old name never really suited it anyway; it made it sound like it was a telecommunications company, and if there's one thing Telecom was never very good at, it was telecommunications.

As I watched Thursday night's debate between a relaxed blue tie and a concerned red tie, I couldn't help but feel our country needed a similar rebranding.

How you perceive this election really depends on your political allegiance.

If you're a big National supporter, you've got nothing to worry about, and subsequently nothing to invest in.

If you hate National, there's a high chance you think this is the most important election of our generation, that this is the most right-wing government in New Zealand history, and there's a vague chance your house is bugged.

I envy you in your fantasy world, Martyn Bradbury, because if you're absolutely anyone else, it's boring.

And it's not just boring because it isn't truly competitive; it's boring because the issues I heard discussed on Thursday night were the same four or five issues I've heard discussed for the entirety of my life, and the changes being proposed in those areas - while significant in the context of the status quo - are actually very minor in the scale of possible change. Sometimes I just wish John Key would come out and say: "We're selling it. We're selling it all. Everything. To Burger King."

Sure, it might not be a good idea, but at least something would happen, and not just slowly through the cruel and gradual process of macroeconomics; but rather suddenly, violently and with visible consequence to those who aren't poor.

If we want our young people engaged in politics, the least we can do is force it on them against their will by doing something so outrageous they have to react.

Perhaps I just wish our elections were more ambitious, less safe, bold, with no pale pastels.

There was a time when we had the courage and lack of foresight to completely overhaul our social and economic structures.

Whatever happened to that? We once had a Prime Minister who called an election while drunk. How have we fallen so far since then?

If it takes six years to balance a budget, and another six years to build some houses, then I'll be long dead before anything exciting or significant happens.

And if National or Labour don't want to commit to actually changing anything, they could at least make us look interesting. Rebrand.

Get rid of the kiwi and replace it with a tiger or something. When we look at ourselves, do we really see a bird that can't fly? Actually, maybe.

Or how about replacing the national anthem with something that has a smooth, hip-hop beat?

No one listens to the old one in their spare time, and half of it I don't even understand what the words mean.

Hell, I don't understand the Maori version, either.

- Herald on Sunday

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