In February 2011 Vice-chancellor Michael Spindelegger was the first Austrian foreign Minister to visit Australia and New Zealand.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy whose head of state Queen Elizabeth II is represented by Governor General Quentin Bryce. The country shares close ties with Europe even though the main pillar of Australian foreign policy is the alliance with the USA. Australian expertise in the pacific region is very valuable. An EU-Australia Agreement is currently considered. Economic prospects have been slowed during the financial and economic crisis but did not lead to a recession. Plenty of resources, natural gas and mining projects are sure to give strong impulses for economy.
Because of close cultural and geographic ties, cooperation between New Zealand and Australia has traditionally been close. Special attention is being paid to exchange with the Asian region and – on an international level – to multilateral engagement. Austria and New Zealand share interests and successful cooperation in the field of disarmament. Export oriented economy has lead bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements, most importantly the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership (TPP). In November 2010 New Zealand opened a bilateral embassy in Vienna also to act as a bridgehead to Europe’s southeast.
All Pacific island states are members of the group of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP countries). The regionally most relevant political subject is Fiji’s return to democracy since the coup d’état in 2006.
All Pacific island states are particularly affected by climate change. Climate protection and environment are therefore priorities in the region.
The EU is the second largest donor of development aid for the Pacific right after Australia. A joint Austrian-Italian project attends to renewable energy (IUCN) for island states and developing countries.