Past Times: December 30, 1991 | Canberra Times

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On this day in 1991, the front page of The Canberra Times contained a story about the impending arrival of then-US President George Bush to Canberra. The largest security operation to date in Canberra’s history was to move into high gear the week after the arrival of Mr. Bush and his entourage of personnel, journalists and security agents. More than half of the 700 Australian federal police were expected to be directly involved in providing security for the visit to Canberra, as well as a large number of NSW and Victorian police to Mr. Bush’s stopovers in Sydney and Melbourne. The first visit by a U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson’s second in 1967, the trip was to be part of an 11-day trip to the Pacific to underscore the United States’ willingness to be an economic power in the region. Bush was also expected to try to reassure that the United States would not ignore its security role in the wake of the decision to relocate its Subic Bay base in the Philippines. His tour would take in Singapore, Japan and Korea. The entourage, of about 400, was to arrive in Sydney on New Year’s Eve. Bush and his wife, Barbara; intelligence agents; a pool media group and the president’s personal staff would fly in on the president’s plane, Air Force One. A converted 747, the Air Force One had a luxurious presidential suite with twin beds, desk, full bath and shower as well as 85 telephones, fax machines, 16 televisions and VCRs and state-of-the-art communication equipment. Its kitchen could take enough food and water for its 23 crews and 70 passengers for a week, and it could be refueled. Another identical jumbo would follow in the event of a failure in Air Force One, and a TWA jumbo had been chartered to transport the over 100 White House journalists coming to Australia to cover the visit. Special transport aircraft would carry the bulletproof limousines to be used. See


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