Holt hosts Australia's first Presidential visit

Holt hosts Australia's first Presidential visit
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On 20 October 1966, United States President Lyndon B Johnson arrived in Australia for the first ever Presidential visit to Australia. 'They're really here', said Prime Minister Harold Holt in his welcome speech.

It was a tour very much in the context of the Vietnam War. Socially and politically it was a contentious period in Australia and America and both leaders were facing public unrest as protests against the war increased. Johnson was keen to shore up Australian support for the war and as such the tour was a show of mutual support for both Johnson and Holt. Holt, who had repeatedly used the Democratic Party slogan of 'all the way with LBJ', was facing a general election the following month.

The visit is famous in Australia partly because of the protests that took place during several public appearances by Johnson which included throwing paint at, and lying in front of, his car. It was also noted for NSW Premier Robert Askin saying, 'Run the bastards over!' while riding in the Presidential car.

As the official record only the briefest scenes of protest were included in this film and no mention is made in the narration. Even though many scenes of protest were shot by the crew, the image is altogether one more of triumph and celebration. And indeed many lined the streets to show their support for the President. Prime Minister Holt was said to be very pleased with the finished film and it was released in cinemas throughout Australia.

Johnson returned to Australia the following year to attend Harold Holt's memorial service after the prime minister disappeared off the coast of Victoria. This is one of several films made by the various government film units covering visiting heads of state from this period.