There's a new pattern in Aussie speech that's used particularly by people being interviewed on radio and television. Politicians use it a lot too. It's prefacing any statement with the word "Look", as in "Look, Deborah, our research shows that....blah, blah, blah." Now that I've noticed, I'm hearing it everywhere: it's an epidemic. On this morning's radio program a doctor being interviewed about anorexia increasing among young children began his every sentence with it. I started listening to see if he could come up with at least one answer where he did not begin with the L word, and nope, there wasn't one.
I think it's being used to stand in for "I'm a reasonable person", a sort of softener to preface an opinion: "here's what I think, but I don't want to appear too assertive, too direct."
In the time I've been away, the word "mate", which used to be a male prerogative, now seems to be applied also to women. I've been called "mate" by assorted tradesmen...and women. It is, after all, a term that's not gender-specific, but it still seems a little odd to me.