What is the difference between Australia and New Zealand in terms of people's lifestyle and life quality?

What is the difference between Australia and New Zealand in terms of people’s lifestyle and life quality?

Australia and New Zealand are like cousins. We are Western liberal democracies with capitalist economies, social safety nets, and high standards of living. There are close political, economic, military, and immigration ties between New Zealand and Australia.

We are both former British settler colonies with White Anglophone cultures. However, we have significant indigenous communities. In Australia, the Indigenous Australians consist of the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders. In New Zealand, the Maori and Moriori would be the indigenous people. In terms of population, Maori make up larger percentage of the New Zealand population (14%) while Indigenous Australians make up 2.8% of the Australian population. This means that Maori have a larger clout in New Zealand politics. There are also seven Maori seats in Parliament as well.

Australia has a population of 25.5 million while New Zealand has a population of about 4.9 million as of 2019. Both New Zealand and Australia are increasingly multicultural with significant populations of Asians, Pasifika, African Europeans, and Americans (including Latin Americans). New Zealand has a larger Pasifika presence (roughly 8%) who are mainly Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, and Fijians. Australia has a large Greek, Italian, African, and Jewish presence.

In terms of geography, Australia is a continent while New Zealand consists of two large islands. Both have smaller offshore and nearshore islands as well.

In terms of climate, Australia has a range of environments including desert, tropical rainforest, grasslands, temperate forests, and mountains. New Zealand has a more temperate climate and environment. The upper North Island has a warm, humid temperate climate while the South Island has a colder, drier climate. New Zealand is generally colder and wetter than Australia. Australia is much warmer and hotter. Drought and forest fires are increasingly problematic in parts of Australia.

In terms of sports, both NZ and Australia love sports. New Zealanders tend to prefer rugby union while Australians prefer rugby league. Cricket and soccer also have strong followings in both countries.

In terms of economy, both countries’ economies are dominated by their services sectors: 61.6% in Australia and 71% in New Zealand. Both countries have some manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The agricultural sectors in both Australia and NZ are small (2.7% and 6.6% of the labour fore respectively) however we make a lot of money exporting animal, vegetable, and fruit products to overseas markets particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Pacific. Australia has a larger mining sector particularly bauxite and coal.

In terms of foreign relations, Australia is much more closely aligned with the United States and Israel. Under the Howard Government, Australia was known as the US’s deputy sheriff in the Asia-Pacific. New Zealand has tended to pursue a more independent foreign policy since the ANZUS nuclear ship visits dispute in 1985. Both countries are part of the UK-USA military and intelligence-sharing network. Both Australia and NZ have contribute troops and peacekeepers. However, NZ did not support the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 while Australia sent troops.

In terms of defence, Australia has submarines and fighter jets. The Australian Defence Force has about 50,000 personnel while the New Zealand Defence Force has 15,000 personnel. New Zealand has not fighter jets and submarines. The NZ military is very much a peacekeeping and emergency relief force while the Australian military is a middle power combat force.

In terms of fauna, Australia has a range of marsupial species including kangaroos, wallabies, possums and Tasmanian Devils. New Zealand is home to several native birds including kiwis and kakapo. Other unique species include tuatara lizards and wetas. Australia would have a wider range of flora and fauna due to its larger landmass. Exotic animals like cats, dogs, rats, mice, cows, and sheep have been introduced to both countries. In Australia, possums are protected. In NZ, possums are considered a pest because they eat native birds and damage trees. People in NZ can sadly be cruel to possums, often overlooking the fact that it was we humans who introduced them.

In terms of politics, Australia and NZ are similar but have some differences. Our left-right politics are the same. The Labour and Green parties in both countries are similar. The Australian Coalition would align with the National Party in NZ. We also have a range of minor parties in Parliament. Unlike NZ, Australia doesn’t have special seats allocated to indigenous peoples. Both Australia and NZ are Commonwealth realms and share the British monarch as Queen.

Australia is a federation with several state legislatures. The Australian Parliament is bicameral while the New Zealand Parliament consists of one house. Both countries have shifted from First Past the Post towards more representative systems. The NZ Parliament uses a mixed member proportional system consisting of both electorate seats and party list seats. The Australian Senate uses a single transferrable voting system while the Australian House of Representative uses an instant runoff voting system. Australia also has a codified constitution while NZ does not have a codified one but instead consists of several sources including the Treaty of Waitangi Act, the NZ Bill of Rights, and the Magna Carta.

In short, Australia and NZ are similar but also have several differences.

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Short answer, not much.

However, this is a difficult question to answer without spending significant amounts of time in lots of different parts of each country. I know NZ well but Australia is huge so I have limited experience.

In terms of city life there isn’t much difference. Auckland has 1.5 million people whereas Sydney and Melbourne’s populations are close to the entire population of NZ. Melbourne has a pretty good public transport system whereas Auckland’s is pretty poor. To my mind though they are all modern, westernised cities with similar levels of ethnic diversity, though I see more black people of African descent in Aussie than in NZ. People do similar jobs, eat similar food and complain about similar things - like house prices, the weather, traffic etc.

In rural areas there is more of a departure. Aussie is relatively mono-cultural whereas there are usually quite a few Maori in rural areas of NZ - more so in North Island and less so in South Island.

NZ has a cooler, wetter climate than most of Aussie and that affects farming - dairy, sheep and forestry in NZ with more arable in Aussie. Fire and deadly things are more of an issue in Aussie than NZ and rural people in NZ are possibly more into outdoor leisure activities in summer because the heat isn’t so brutal. Both countries have great national health and education systems and good standards of living, though obviously there are poor people like there are in all countries.

Both countries have a similar passion for similar sports.

The only difference that really stands out to me is that Aussie is very Americanised. Aussies tend to write in British English but speak in American English. When I’ve mentioned this to work-mates they are generally taken aback and simply don’t realise they are doing it.

My personal experience is that both Australians and Kiwi’s are almost universally lovely, friendly, outgoing people with a great sense of humour and an egalitarian, relaxed approach to life. Work has brought me to Australia but I’d be equally happy in either country. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the chance to live in and experience both.