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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Prime Minister the Hon John Howard MP: Sydney: 4 November 2004: US election result.\n



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PRIME MINISTER

4 November 2004

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, SYDNEY

Subjects: US election result

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………..

PRIME MINISTER:

I congratulate President Bush on a quite remarkable win. It was strong and emphatic not only through the popular vote but also the victories he’s had in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the fact that he received 51 per cent of the popular vote, the first President for 12 years to win a majority of the votes cast. So I congratulate him very, very warmly indeed on a quite remarkable victory.

This was a strong reaffirmation of his leadership of the United States in its fight against world terrorism. It’s a victory for the anti-terrorism cause. It’s a signal to the rest of the world that it must redouble its efforts to unite, to combat the threat that terrorism represents to all of us because of the values that we hold and the attitude to life that we take.

I rang President Bush this morning. We had a ten minute discussion. We naturally talked about aspects of the campaign. I congratulated him on such a remarkable victory. I look forward to seeing him when we meet at the APEC gathering in Chile in November. We will then have an opportunity of talking in more detail about issues in the region which are important to both Australia and the United States and our ongoing partnership in the campaign against terrorism.

This is a wonderful personal victory for a person who I like and who I believe has given strong and resolute leadership to his country and through the position he occupies to the anti-terrorist cause and the cause of freedom around the world.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell us about his mood and what he said to you, Mr Howard, on the phone today?

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PRIME MINISTER:

He was naturally very happy, as any person would be in a similar situation, I know the feeling. But he’s also very conscious of the need for unity within his own country, as I am within this country. We are both believers in the democratic process, once a decision has been taken though it’s the responsibility of elected leaders to reach out to everybody in the community, not just those people who voted for them, but also those people who voted against them.

JOURNALIST:

What does it mean… what does the result mean for the Free Trade Agreement?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there are still some details to be worked out, we didn’t discuss that today, we probably won’t discuss it between now and the APEC meeting and only then if it’s necessary. I’m still optimistic but there are some details to be worked out.

JOURNALIST:

Were you surprised to hear Mr Bush borrow your words at the end of his campaign and talk about the election being a matter of trust and who the American people trusted to run their economy and run their country?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I think they’re the sort of words that do encapsulate a choice, that’s why I use them and I’m sure that’s the reason that President Bush used them.

JOURNALIST:

A bit of plagiarism maybe?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t mind.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, Tony Blair is the last of the Coalition partners to go to an election. Do you think, given this result and your backing of George Bush that you’re prepared also to back Tony Blair?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’m not going to start expressing a view on an election that hasn’t even been called. As you all know, I like Mr Blair a lot, I admire the great courage he’s displayed in confronting his own party on some difficult issues, but also I think you’d all know that my historic political allegiances when it comes to the United Kingdom would naturally lie with the other side of politics.

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JOURNALIST:

This must put it beyond a shadow of a doubt that voters supported your and Mr Bush’s decision to go to war.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, people make decisions on a combination of issues, but speaking for the Australian electorate - I’m not going to speak for the American electorate, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous - it is quite clear that the very negative campaign that was waged against my Government in relation to Iraq failed to resonate with the Australian people. That doesn’t mean to say that we don’t face significant ongoing challenges in that country but we must stay the distance and this result will send a very clear signal around the world that the Coalition of more than 30 nations in Iraq is determined to stay the distance, is determined to give the people of Iraq the opportunity of reaching out for a democratic future. Thank you.

[ends]