George W. Bush photo

Exchange With Reporters Following Discussions With Prime Minister John Howard of Australia

September 10, 2001

Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

Q. Mr. President, how do you feel about a free trade agreement with Australia?

President Bush. We've had a good discussion about it.

Q. Progress, sir?

President Bush. I think we've made some good progress; you bet. I appreciate the Prime Minister being here. Australia is a great friend to the United States, and it's an honor to welcome him and the delegation here.

Q. Does the agreement still have to wait until after the FDA here?

President Bush. We're making good progress. He's certainly making a good case.

Legislative Agenda

Q. Mr. President, if you had to choose between education and your tax cut, which would you choose?

President Bush. I'm going to Florida today——

Q. Have fun.

President Bush. ——to talk about education.

I hope the Australian press is kinder to you than the American press is to me.

Bush-Howard Discussions

Q. How have you found the discussions——

Prime Minister Howard. Dennis? You heard that, Dennis?

Q. Yes?

Prime Minister Howard. You just listen to the man. He speaks great common sense. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Howard, how have you found the discussions so far with Mr. Bush?

Prime Minister Howard. Very good. I mean, we are very close friends. We covered just about everything you could cover in the time. We're going to continue over lunch to talk about some of the regional issues. And it's a great opportunity to reinforce what a deep friendship it is. And the President and I have a great similarity of views on many issues, and it's a great experience to be able to exchange them with somebody who holds the views he does.

Q. Have you provided an update on the——

Prime Minister Howard. I can't hear you; I'm sorry.

Q. Have you provided an update on the HMAS Manoora at all?

Prime Minister Howard. Haven't discussed it.

U.S. Open Tennis Tournament

Q. Mr. President, do you congratulate Lleyton Hewitt for winning the U.S. Open?

President Bush. Yes, I do. Man, you talk about a guy who can play tennis. He was— clearly tennis is one of Australia's best exports.

By the way, now that you're here, I do want to say hello to my old friend John Newcombe. I knew him years ago; he represents the best of Australia. And by the way, we get along well, because if there's any place that's like Texas, it's Australia— which is a high compliment, I want you to know.

Bush-Howard Discussions

Q. Mr. President, do you see a role for Australia in the development of your——

President Bush. I do. They're close allies. We'll have close consultation. I look forward to the Prime Minister's continuing advice. We have had great discussions about the Far East, and his advice is very valuable for our foreign policy. There's nothing like a friend who will tell the truth.

NOTE: The exchange began at 11:20 a.m. on the West Colonnade at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to former Australian Davis Cup captain John Newcombe. A reporter referred to the HMAS Manoora, an Australian naval ship which held several hundred asylum seekers refused entry into Australia. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

George W. Bush, Exchange With Reporters Following Discussions With Prime Minister John Howard of Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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