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The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Malcolm B. Turnbull of Australia

February 23, 2018

President Trump. Thank you very much. Thank you. Today I'm honored to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia, and Mrs. Turnbull. Thank you very much. It's a great honor.

We're looking forward to sending our newly nominated Ambassador, Admiral Harry Harris, to you very shortly. He's an outstanding man. You're going to find that he's a great man.

I want to thank the Prime Minister for offering his condolences on the horrible tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Americans are grateful for the prayers and support of our Australian friends—and friends they are—as our entire Nation grieves the senseless loss of 17 precious lives and all of the horribly injured.

The United States and Australia are currently honoring 100 years of mateship, a term that you use very beautifully, Mr. Prime Minister. A century has passed since brave Americans and Australians first fought together in World War I. Over the last 100 years, our partnership has thrived as a bulwark of freedom, security, and democracy.

Last spring, the Prime Minister and I celebrated the remarkable 100-year milestone during an extraordinary evening on the USS Intrepid. And my friend Greg Norman and Anthony Pratt and some of the others who are in the room today, they were—hello, folks. Stand up, Greg. Stand up, Anthony. [Laughter] Where's Anthony? Good. That was a great—that was a great evening, thank you.

This afternoon I'm pleased to announce that the United States will name the Littoral Combat Ship 30, the USS Canberra, in honor of an Australian cruiser lost fighting alongside the U.S. Navy during World War II. Our Secretary of the Navy has chosen Australian Minister of Defense Marise Payne to be her sponsor.

I know that the USS Canberra will be a worthy successor to both her Australian namesake and her American predecessor, the former Navy Baltimore-class heavy cruiser, USS Canberra. As she sails the open sea, the new USS Canberra will symbolize to all who cross her path the enduring friendship between the United States and Australia. There is no closer friendship.

Today, strengthened by our common values and history, we're working together to promote our mutual interests. I want to thank the Prime Minister for serving as a strong voice for peace and stability across the entire Indo-Pacific region.

Australia is one of our closest partners in our campaign of maximum pressure to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Today we put the strongest sanctions on Korea that we have ever put on a country. We must continue to stand together to prevent the brutal dictatorship from threatening the world with nuclear devastation.

Our nations, likewise, share a commitment to keeping our people safe from terrorism. Australian troops are currently serving alongside Americans and our partners in Afghanistan and the coalition to defeat ISIS. Together, we're denying terrorists safe haven, cutting off their funding, and discrediting their wicked ideology. ISIS land has been largely recaptured, almost 100 percent, I'm very honored to say. And they are on the run. Our strong partnership can also be seen in our flourishing economic relationship. Australia remains a key market for U.S. defense products. We make the greatest products in the world, so you have very good taste in choosing our product—[laughter]—automobiles and aircraft. And our fair and reciprocal trading relationship is a model for other countries as we seek bilateral agreements.

News that America is open for business has also reached Australian shores. In May, Australian entrepreneur Anthony Pratt announced a new $2 billion investment in box-making factories across the United States. But he only did that if Trump won the election, I think. Is that a correct statement, Anthony?

Pratt/Visy Industries Global Chairman Anthony J. Pratt. A hundred percent correct.

President Trump. Thank you. [Laughter] Boy, that was a close one. I was worried. [Laughter] These people would have had a field day if you gave the wrong answer. Thank you. [Laughter] No, but Anthony did call, and he said if he wins the election, we're going to spend billions of dollars in the United States. And I appreciate your giving me a very, very correct comment. Thank you, Anthony. I'll never do that again. [Laughter]

This investment will continue to build on an almost 100,000 American jobs that are taking place and already supported by Australian companies.

I'm glad to share that the United States is also, by far, the largest investor in Australia. In the room today are dozens of American and Australian business leaders and great athletes—great athlete and business leader, by the way, Greg—who are working together to identify further opportunities for bilateral investment and cooperation.

Mr. Prime Minister, I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your immigration reforms and on Australia's commitment to merit-based immigration. Are my friends from Congress listening to that? Merit-based. We want to do merit-based immigration also. And we will. That really protects the interests of Australia and its people. It's the way to go, and you've been very successful with it. Here, we're working very hard to do the same. In that sense, we're going to hopefully follow in your footprints.

Prime Minister Turnbull, it's been a pleasure to host you today. We had a great lunch with your representatives. A lot was discussed. A lot of deals were made for the purchase of additional military equipment and other things.

For a century now, the people of the United States and Australia have inspired the world with their determination, their bravery, and their generosity. I know that our close friendship and enduring alliance—and our personal friendship—will grow even stronger in the century to come. Our relationship with Australia will always be a very powerful and very successful relationship. It's been incredible, and it's only getting better.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

Prime Minister Turnbull. Well, thank—Mr. President, thank you so much. Lucy and I want to thank you and First Lady Melania Trump for your very warm welcome, your generous hospitality, and friendship.

Our meeting today was a great opportunity to strengthen and deepen our engagement with the United States—you are our most important strategic and economic partner—and to lay the groundwork for a new phase of intensified cooperation; the next hundred years of mateship. Now, I'm here, as you noted, Mr. President, with the most substantial Australian delegation ever to travel to Washington, DC. We have, in addition to the CEOs—several of whom you have identified here today, who are busy creating jobs—we spent much of our time this—today talking about jobs. They are creating jobs in Australia and in the United States, demonstrating that our two great nations—committed to competition, to freedom, to economic innovation, science, and technology, working together—complement each other. And that's why we're seeing strong jobs growth in both countries. We've had 403,000 jobs created last year in Australia—the largest number, Mr. President, in our country's history—in 16 months of continued jobs growth.

And we have been inspired, I have to say, by your success in securing the passage of the tax reforms through the Congress. We have secured some tax reforms in terms of reducing company tax, but not as much as we need to do. We've got more work to do.

And the stimulus, the economic stimulus that your reforms have delivered here in the United States, is one of the most powerful arguments that we are deploying to persuade our legislature to support reducing business tax. Because, as you are demonstrating, and as we all know, when you cut company tax, most of the benefit goes to workers, it produces more investment; and when you get more investment, you get more jobs.

And of course, I'm also joined on this visit with six of the leaders of our States and territories. The only two that are not here, Mr. President, are those that are fighting elections. So, as you can imagine, that's always a top priority. And we're meeting at the National Governor's Association, again broadening and deepening the relationship.

We have a huge amount to work with. Our relationship, as you said, has been forged over a century through times of war and peace, securing both our nations' freedom and security in the world. But our relationship is based not only on history. We have the same values. We share a deep well of trust and spirit based on those enduring values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, enterprise, ingenuity; the spirit of having a go and, if it doesn't work out, dust yourself off and have another go. That is a core American and Australian value. That spirit of enterprise is what leads us on.

And of course, our relationship is underpinned by millions of people-to-people and family links, and, of course, the extensive economic cooperation we've spoken about.

Our security alliance is as close as it possibly could be, yet keeps getting closer. The cooperation is more intense than it has ever been. Whether we are standing up for freedom's cause in the Middle East, in our region, around the world combating terrorism, the cooperation in a connected world that we need to have is greater than ever. And that trust between Australia and the United States, between the thousands of brave servicemen and women who are working together right now, that trust underpins our security.

And you mentioned, Mr. President, our economic relationship and trade. Do you know, since the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force in 2005, two-way trade has grown by over 50 percent? The United States does have a trade surplus with Australia of $25 billion. It's your third largest trade surplus—with us. But you know, we know it works for both of us.

The two-way investment has more than doubled in the past decade. It was worth around $1.1 trillion in 2016—again, boosting jobs and growth in both our nations, both our economies. And today we've agreed on some new initiatives that will deepen this relationship further, where it's seeking to expand transparent and competitive global energy markets, cooperating on high-quality infrastructure investment in the United States and in the region. We've spent a lot of time talking about infrastructure, including urban infrastructure, a subject, Mr. President, of course, you have a lifetime's of experience in. And the leadership you're showing on infrastructure in the United States is being admired around the world, and Australian companies and Australian experience is there to help, as—is as you know, and is already operating here. A number of our infrastructure players are very active in the U.S.

We're obviously working to intensify our cooperation on digital trade. Bob Lighthizer and Wilbur Ross, from your side; Steve Ciobo, my Trade Minister, who's here with them today, have made terrific progress in that regard.

Now we turn to security. Yesterday Lucy and I were with General Dunford at the Arlington National Cemetery. And we honored America's war dead, we honored an Australian airman who had died in combat in the—in New Guinea, in the Second World War, who was buried there at Arlington also.

And we are reminded that all of the freedoms we enjoy, whether it is in our Parliament in Canberra, or here in Washington and the White House, or in the Congress, all of those freedoms have had to be secured generation after generation by courageous men and women defending freedom's cause. Our freedoms have depended on them. And Americans know, as Australians know, that each of us have no better ally. We are mates; a hundred years of mateship.

We're working together, as you said, to address the greatest threat to our region right now: North Korea's illegal nuclear weapons program. And I want to welcome, and of course support, Mr. President, the new sanctions that have been announced today. And we continue to do precisely the same with our own autonomous sanctions and, of course, enforcing the U.N. Security Council-mandated sanctions.

We're working to combat terrorism around the world, helping the Iraqis and the Afghans build up the resilience to hold their countries secure in the face of terrorists.

And of course, we both recognize that the prosperity of our region, and indeed the world, has been underpinned and, in fact, built on a foundation of a rules-based order which has been secured by the leadership of the United States ever since the Second World War. That leadership has been critical.

And the commitment you showed, Mr. President, when you came out to the region, to the East Asia Summit, to APEC, last year—that commitment was so important. It spoke volumes for America's continued commitment to our region, to our part of the world, to the Indo-Pacific. So vital. The engine room, if you like, of the fastest economic growth, the most rapid economic growth that we've seen in our times.

Now, Mr. President, I want to thank you—as I have earlier in our meetings—I want to thank you for the very rare honor you have shown to Australia by naming one of your future littoral combat ships the USS Canberra. That is—what a great symbol of our alliance and our shared security endeavors. What an extraordinary statement of commitment. And it's worth observing that that ship will be built by Austal in Mobile, Alabama. So you have an Australian company with American workers, working, operating in the United States, building ships for the U.S. Navy. What a great example of a hundred years of mateship. And when you grieve, as you said, you noted at the outset, so do we. So we send our love, our prayers, and our condolences to all of the victims and their families of the shocking shooting in the school in Florida. We are mates, we stand by each other. And when we are hurt, we are hurt as well.

So, Mr. President, thank you for your warm welcome. A hundred years of mateship, we celebrate a hundred years ago on July 4. John Monash—General John Monash—led American and Australian troops into battle in the First World War for the first time. And we've been side by side ever since. A hundred years of mateship celebrated, and a hundred more years to look forward to, closer than ever.

Thank you very much.

President Trump. Fantastic. Thank you very much.

Well, thank you very much, Malcolm. That's very beautiful words, and we appreciate it. On behalf of the First Lady, who is right here, and our great Vice President, Mike, thank you very much. It's an honor to have you.

And we'll ask—we'll answer a couple of questions. Is that okay?

Prime Minister Turnbull. Yes.

President Trump. How about Trey [Trey Yingst, One America News Network] from One America News? Trey? Where are you? Hi. Good, Trey, go ahead.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

President Trump. Yes.

Gun Control/Mental Illness/School Safety

Q. I have a couple questions for you if you would answer——

President Trump. How about one? [Laughter] Go ahead, Trey.

Q. Compromise with two. Following mass shootings, there's often a lot of talk and little action. So I ask you today: What specific pieces of legislation or legislative framework will you propose to lawmakers following the Parkland shooting?

President Trump. Well, we're going to do a lot, but we are going to be very strong on background checks. I've spoken with many of our people in Congress—our Senators, our Congressmen and women—and there's a movement on to get something done. We want to be very powerful on background checks.

When we're dealing with the mentally ill, as we were in this last case—he was a very sick person and somebody that should have been nabbed. I guess they had 39 different occasions where they were able to see him or potentially see him. We want to be very powerful, very strong on background checks and especially as it pertains to the mentally ill. We're going to get rid of the bump stocks, and we're going to do certain other things.

But one of the feelings that I have, and you probably heard me in a speech this morning—very, very important that we have offensive capability as well as defensive capability that's within the schools. Because when you have a gun-free zone, you're really inviting people to come in and do whatever you have to do and, oftentimes, get out.

Now, I was the one that brought up the fact that these shootings, on average, last 3 minutes, and it takes anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes for the police to get to the site. And I want to have people in the building. And, in many cases, you have ex-marines and ex-Army and Navy and Air Force and Coast Guard—you have them in the building, and they can have concealed weapons and still be teachers, or they could be in the building in a different capacity.

But we have to have offensive capability to take these people out rapidly before they can do this kind of damage. But we'll be putting in strong language having to do with the background checks, and that will take place very quickly.

I spoke with Paul Ryan this morning, with Mitch McConnell, and people are looking to really energize. I know that you've had—this has been going on for a long time. Many, many years. And you've had people in my position, and they would mention things, but not a lot of things got done, obviously. We take it very seriously. We want to put an end to it.

And if, by the way, the bad guy thinks that somebody is in this room with a weapon that's going to be pointed at him with live bullets, he's not even going into the school. It's the one way you're going to solve it. You're not going to solve it with gun-free spaces, because they'll get in there, and they're going to be the only one with a gun. So we need offensive capability, and we're going to be doing something about it. We're dealing with Congress right now.

Thank you. Thank you.

Gun Control/School Safety/Arming Teachers With Firearms

Q. If I could follow up, Mr. President. Amid talks of arming teachers and mental health, what specific commitments to American students can you make that these policies will make them safer?

President Trump. Well, I think it's going to make it safer, and, you know, the problem that's been happening over the last 20 years is people have talked—you said it—it's all talk, it's no action. And we're going to take action. I think it's going to make it safer. I think the fact that you have some capability within a school, they're not going to go into that school. They're not going to do it.

You can look at what's happened with airplanes where we put marshals on planes with guns; where pilots, in many cases, have guns. Nothing has happened for a long period of time, when it used to almost—it was getting to a point of being routine. When you have somebody with a gun staring you down, it's going to be a lot different for them to walk into those schools.

Right now they look at the sign outside, "This is a gun-free environment." That means they're the only one with a gun. And the damage this lunatic did in that school for such a long period of time.

And, frankly, you had a gun, and he was outside as a guard, and he decided not to go in. That was not his finest moment, that I can tell you. He waited, and he didn't want to go into the school. I just heard this, and it's a terrible situation.

But we need people that can take care of our children. We're not going to let this happen again. And the way it's not going to happen again—because they're basically cowards. Innately, they're cowards. And if they know bad things happen to them, once they get into that school, by people that love the children—see, a security guard doesn't know the children, doesn't love the children. This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn't love the children, probably doesn't know the children. The teachers love their children; they love their pupils; they love their students. They're doing it also from love. Now, they have to be very adept. I'm not talking about every teacher; I'm talking about a small percentage. But people that have great ability with weaponry, with guns, those are the only people I'm talking about it. But they'll protect the student.

For the Prime Minister?

Q. Certainly. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for joining us today here in Washington. Australia is known for helping the Syrian people and Syrian refugees. So I ask you today, as the world watches, what steps can Australia take, with the help of President Trump and the United States, to ensure that civilians are protected in Eastern Ghouta?

Prime Minister Turnbull. Well, the Australian forces—the Australian Armed Forces have been working as part of the coalition to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria for some time now. That's been—we are—our principal concentration or focus of our efforts now is in Iraq, as opposed to Syria, where we are training both their elite special forces unit, their counterterrorism service, and their regular army and armed police. We have a very—trained over 30,000 personnel at our Task Force Taji, which is based at the Taji Airfield, near Baghdad.

The—in terms of refugees, Australia has a very substantial humanitarian program. We are currently taking about 18,000 refugees a year. We've taken 12,000 from the—in addition to that—from the Syrian conflict zone. But we determine which—we are very careful about security, of course, in terms of our humanitarian program.

But I think it would be fair to say—the President has, of course, the most insight into this area here—but it would be fair to say that, ultimately, the resolution in Syria has to be a political settlement. And that, I'm sure, is what Secretary Tillerson is working towards.


Q. And if I could briefly follow up. Specifically, though, in Syria—as two of the most powerful men in the entire world, is there anything that you can do to stop the bloodshed?

Prime Minister Turnbull. Well, ultimately there has to be a political settlement. It is a—you know, the campaign to destroy Daesh, or ISIL, has been largely completed. Their terror—you know, the so-called caliphate has been reduced down to a few pockets. It's been—it has been smashed. And that has been—and Americans and Australians have worked bravely, effectively, with our allies and partners in the region to do that.

And it's very important, by the way, to keep Australians and Americans safe at home, because the image of ISIL's "invincible caliphate" sweeping across Syria and Iraq, and they said they were going to sweep across Europe—all of that was a big recruiting tool. So this was a very important part of our global effort. But ultimately the settlement in those—in that region has to come from a political settlement among the people who live there.

President Trump. I will say, what Russia and what Iran and what Syria have done recently is a humanitarian disgrace. I will tell you that. We're there for one reason: We're there to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS and go home. We're not there for any other reason, and we've largely accomplished our goal.

But what those three countries have done to people over the last short period of time is a disgrace.

Okay. Would you like to ask a question, Mr. Prime Minister? Prime Minister Turnbull. Yes. I think—yes, Phil Coorey from the Australian Financial Review.

Trans-Pacific Partnership/Trade

Q. Thanks, gentlemen. Mr. Trump, Mr. Turnbull, Phil Coorey from the Financial Review. To you, Mr. Trump, just on the region and China and associated issues, the United States Navy has conducted, frequently, freedom-of-navigation sail-throughs through the disputed areas. Would you like to see the Australian Navy participate directly in those operations alongside their U.S. allies?

And whilst on the region, could I ask you what your latest thinking is on the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Are you softening your opposition to that, or do you remain as opposed as ever?

President Trump. Well, I think the Trans-Pacific Partnership was not a good deal for us. And if they made it a good deal for us, I'd go in. But honestly, it wasn't. I like bilateral deals much more than multilateral. I like to be able to negotiate with one country. And if it doesn't work out, you terminate. And during the termination notice, right after you consent, they call you and they say, "Please, let's make a deal," and you fix the deal. When you get into multi, you can't do that.

But Trans-Pacific Partnership—TPP—was a very bad deal for the United States. It would have cost us tremendous amounts of jobs. It would have been bad. But there's a possibility we would go in, but they will be offering us a much better deal. I would certainly do that.

As far as your lanes are concerned, we'd love to have Australia involved, and I think Australia wants us to stay involved. I have to say, we've developed a great relationship with China, other than the fact that they've been killing us on trade for the last long period of time—killing us, absolutely killing the United States on trade.

But we have developed a great relationship with China—probably closer than we've ever had. And my personal relationship, as Malcolm can tell you, with President Xi is, I think, quite extraordinary. He's somebody that I like, and I think he likes me. With that being said, he likes China and I like the United States. [Laughter]

But a lot of things are happening. It's going to be a very interesting period of time. But we do have to straighten out. And as much I like and respect—really respect President Xi, we have to straighten out the trade imbalance. It's too much. It's no good.

Prime Minister Turnbull. Okay. Kieran Gilbert from Sky News.

North Korea/China

Q. Kieran Gilbert, Sky News Australia. General Mattis has called China a revisionist power and that there are growing threats from China. Yet, you're very positive about your relationship with Xi. Can you tell us, is it a friend or a foe?

And on North Korea—the sanctions, if they don't work, are all options still on the table? Can I get your answer and also the Prime Minister's thoughts?

President Trump. Well, to the second, we'll have to see. I don't think I'm going to exactly play that card. But we'll have to see. If the sanctions don't work, we'll have to go phase two. And phase two may be a very rough thing. May be very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work. We have tremendous support all around the world for what we're doing. It really is a rogue nation. If we can make a deal, it'll be a great thing. And if we can't, something will have to happen. So we'll see.

As far as General Mattis is concerned, I mean, he has that view, and a lot of people have that view. China is tough. They're getting stronger. They're getting stronger to a large extent, with a lot of the money they've made from having poor leadership in the United States, because the United States leadership has allowed them to get away with murder.

With that being said, I think we can have a truly great even trading relationship with China. Hopefully that's going to work out. And hopefully the relationship I have with President Xi will make that happen. Only time will tell. Thank you.

Prime Minister Turnbull. Well, I can confirm that President Trump and President Xi see eye-to-eye in every respect. And they have a—it's very clear at the meetings I've been at, which we've attended in the region—the East Asia Summit, and so forth, APEC—the respect that they have with each other. And I think it's the most—single most important relationship—between China and the United States. It's clearly very respectful, very frank, very clear-eyed.

For our own part, we see China's rise as being overwhelmingly a positive for the region and for the world. The critical thing, of course, is the rule of law is maintained. You know, that is the—there are people that want to try to paint the United States and its allies, like Australia, as being against China in some sort of rerun of the cold war. That is not appropriate. It's not accurate.

What we need to ensure is that the rules of the road, the rule of law, the rules-based system, where big countries can't push around little countries; where, to quote Lee Kuan Yew all those years ago, where you don't have a "world where the big fish eat the little fish and the little fish eat the shrimps." Where you have that rule of law that protects everybody, that is what has enabled the great growth in our region. That's what's enabled hundreds of millions of people in our region, and including in China, to be lifted out of poverty. So maintaining that rules-based order is what we are committed to, and we all have a vested interest in doing so.

And I just want to say again, to the President, that the—that his presence—his own personal presence in our region at the end of last year was—sent such a powerful message. The regular visits by Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and of course, the presence of the United States Navy and so many other manifestations of American commitment to the region is so important to maintaining that rules-based order. Believe me, that has been the foundation of the success, the prosperity, and the security these last 40 or more years.

President Trump. I don't think we've ever had a better relationship with China than we do right now. The only thing that can get in its way is trade, because it's so one-sided, it's so lopsided. And the people that stood here for many years in this position, right where I am right now, should never have allowed that to happen. It's very unfair to the United States, and it's very unfair to the workers of the United States. Very, very unfair.

And even today, it's extremely hard on companies that want to do business in China, because the barriers are incredible, whereas the barriers coming into our country are foolishly not. Foolishly. I believe in reciprocal trade. If they do something to us, we do something to them. Well, that never happened. And it's gotten worse and worse over the years. But we'll correct it. That can be the only thing that can get in the way of a truly long-term, great relationship. Because we have all the ingredients for friendship.

From the Washington Examiner, Gabby [Gabby Morrongiello, Washington Examiner].

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Your Chief of Staff, General Kelly, has recommended ending the practice of granting interim security clearances to members of the Trump administration.

President Trump. Yes.

White House Senior Adviser Jared C. Kushner/Arab-Israeli Peace Process/White House Security Clearances

Q. If that proceeds, would you be willing to grant a waiver to Jared Kushner, one of your senior advisors?

President Trump. Well, Jared has done an outstanding job. I think he's been treated very unfairly. He's a high-quality person. He works for nothing, just so—nobody ever reports that. But he gets zero. He doesn't get a salary, nor does Ivanka, who's now in South Korea—long trip—representing her country. And we cannot get a better representative. In fact, the First Lady, Melania, was telling me what a great impression she made this morning when she landed in South Korea.

Jared is truly outstanding. He was very successful when he was in the private sector. He's working on peace in the Middle East and some other small and very easy deals. They've always said peace in the Middle East, peace between the Palestinians and Israel, is the toughest deal of any deal there is.

Malcolm, I've heard this all my life, that as a former dealmaker—although now you could say maybe I'm more of a dealmaker than ever before; you have no choice as President to do it right—but the hardest deal to make of any kind is between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We're actually making great headway. Jerusalem was the right thing to do. We took that off the table.

But Jared Kushner is right in the middle of that, and he's an extraordinary dealmaker. And if he does that, that will be an incredible accomplishment and a very important thing for our country.

So General Kelly—who's doing a terrific job, by the way—is right in the middle of that. We inherited a system that's broken. It's a system where many people have just—it's taken months and months and months to get many people that do not have a complex financial—you know, complicated financials. They don't have that, and it's still taken months. It's a broken system, and it shouldn't take this long. You know how many people are on that list, people with not a problem in the world.

So that will be up to General Kelly. General Kelly respects Jared a lot, and General Kelly will make that call. I won't make that call. I will let the General, who's right here, make that call.

But Jared is doing some very important things for our country. He gets paid zero. Ivanka, by the way, gets paid zero. She gave up a very good and very strong, solid big business in order to come to Washington, because she wanted to help families and she wanted to help women. She said, "Dad, I want to go to Washington, I want to help women." And I said, "You know, Washington is a mean place." She said: "I don't care. I want to help women. I want to help families." And she was very much involved, as you know, in the child tax credit. And now she's working very much on family leave—things that I don't think would have been in the agreement if it weren't for Ivanka and some of our great Senators, et cetera. But she was very much in the forefront of that.

So I will let General Kelly make that decision. And he's going to do what's right for the country. And I have no doubt he'll make the right decision. Okay? Thank you very much.

Q. Thank you. Mr.——

President Trump. Do you have a question for the Prime Minister?

Gun Control

Q. Mr. Prime Minister, your country conducted a buyback program of semiautomatic weapons back in the mid-nineties and hasn't had a mass shooting ever since. Is this something that you've discussed with President Trump? And did you at all urge him to reconsider his current recommendations to combat mass shootings in the United States?

Prime Minister Turnbull. Well, the—our history with gun control and regulation is obviously very different to the United States. And you're right, there was a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996, and my predecessor, John Howard, who's very well known here in the United States—Prime Minister for nearly 12 years. John undertook some very big reforms.

And basically, semiautomatic, and let alone automatic weapons, are essentially not available. Indeed, there are many classes of—the range of firearms that are available to people that don't have a specific professional need, like, you know, people who are involved in pest control and so forth, are very, very limited.

But it's a completely different context historically, legally, and so forth. We are very satisfied with our laws. We maintain them. We—they're there, they're well known, you've referred to them. But we certainly don't presume to provide policy or political advice on that matter here. This is—you have an amendment to your Constitution which deals with gun ownership. You have a very, very different history. And I—we'll focus on our own political arguments and debates, and wish you wise deliberation in your own.

Q. Thank you.

President Trump. And I have to add to that. They are very different countries with very different sets of problems. But I think we're well on the way to solving that horrible problem that happens far too often in the United States.

Thank you very much, everybody. We appreciate it. Thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much.

NOTE: The President's news conference began at 2:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Lucinda M. Turnbull, wife of Prime Minister Turnbull; Gregory J. Norman, former professional golfer, and chairman and chief executive officer, Greg Norman Company; Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer; Vice President Michael R. Pence; Nikolas J. Cruz, suspected gunman in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, on February 14; Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul D. Ryan; Senate Majority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell; Scot Peterson, former deputy sheriff, Broward County, FL, Sherriff's Office, in his former capacity as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resource officer; Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis; and Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization, also known as Daesh or ISIL. Prime Minister Turnbull referred to Premier Daniel M. Andrews of Victoria; Premier Gladys Berejiklian of New South Wales; Premier Mark McGowan of West Australia; Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of Queensland; Chief Minister Andrew J. Barr of the Australian Capital Territory; Chief Minister Michael P.F. Gunner of the Northern Territory; Premier Jay Weatherill of South Australia; Premier William E.F. Hodgman of Tasmania; U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr.; Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Steven Ciobo of Australia; U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC; and U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.

Donald J. Trump, The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Malcolm B. Turnbull of Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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