Australia and New Zealand are in a unique part of the world. They are both fairly isolated, and the nearest countries to them tend to be much worse off socioeconomically (Papua New Guinea, for example. Many factors have contributed to their uniqueness over the years.
Firstly, due to their isolation, they both have very unique biodiversity. Australia, in particular, is known for its marsupials, such as the Kangaroo, the Tasmanian Devil, the (extinct) Tasmanian Tiger, Wallabies, etc. New Zealand is also famous for its unique animals, most famously the now-extinct Dodo bird. It is also of note that early humans in Australia in particular appear to have caused a mass extinction of species when they first settled the continent around 40,000 years ago (hypothetically because many of the animals did not know they needed to fear the newcomers). New Zealand, settled much later, may have experienced such an event as well.
Both are also influenced heavily by their native populations and their treatment during the colonial period. The Maori in New Zealand and the Aboriginals in Australia remain somewhat outcast from society to this day, and their poor socio economic outlook leads to increased crime and other social problems, such as alcoholism and teen pregnancy, in their populations (which are often grouped together, causing the problems to spread among them). The history of brutal treatment of the Aboriginals in Australia also leads to many problems between the populations. However, since the Aboriginal population was reduced so drastically by disease, violence, and interbreeding with Europeans, their population has been greatly reduced.
The majority of the populations of Australia and New Zealand are of Western European ancestry. Both were colonies of the British Empire, and their legal systems are both based on Common Law. Their traditions and way of life are more typical of that experienced in other “Western” style countries, like the United States and Canada, which had been founded by the British and have systems based on Common Law. English is also the main language of both countries, firmly entrenching them business-wise in the Western world. While they may be more affected than other “western” countries by their proximity to Asia, they still look mainly to London for most of their business activity.
Yet Australia’s colonial origins as a penal colony also shape the nation’s image (both outwardly and inwardly). One of Australia’s “national heros”, for example, is Ned Kelly, who was an Irish-Australian outlaw, a sort of “Robin Hood” type character. Late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin cultivated a stereotypical image of the Australian living on the edge and taunting danger. Unfortunately, this strategy did not work out very well for him in the end. And Crocodile Dundee also brought the stereotypical Australian to the fore. But Australians and New Zealanders are also known globally for a desire to travel and an international lifestyle. Julian Assange, an Aussie ex-patriot, has been in the global news recently, as has Rupert Murdoch. Average Australians and New Zealanders can be found backpacking frequently throughout the globe.
You may have noticed that both this paper and the text focused mainly on Australia and less on New Zealand. This is mostly due to New Zealand’s smaller population, greater isolation, relatively recent human settlement (traced back only about 700 years, to the Polynesians) and comparatively peaceful relationships with its native populations. New Zealand is, of course, still an important player in this part of the world.
Both Australia and New Zealand have unique histories, and this makes a direct impact upon daily life in these countries and the way business is conducted. The complex relationship with the Aborigines in Australia has a direct impact on political policy, but also frequently results in a certain degree of discrimination against them in the general population (a similar relationship exists with the First Peoples in Canada and the Native Americans in the United States). But, as in these countries, Australia and New Zealand, while aware of their colonial history and wrongdoings, mainly look forward with their “Western” outlook rather than incorporating facets of what clearly are conquered native populations.