Morrison accused of worsening rift with French government after leak of Macron text

3 weeks ago 17

Scott Morrison has been accused of putting his idiosyncratic governmental interests up of healing Australia’s diplomatic rift with France, aft the leaking of a substance connection from Emmanuel Macron to the premier minister.

The merchandise of a substance received 2 days earlier the Aukus announcement – erstwhile the French president asked Morrison whether to expect bully oregon atrocious quality connected the submarine task – was “highly unconventional behaviour betwixt authorities leaders”, a starring overseas affairs expert said.

The Morrison authorities besides pushed backmost astatine the US authorities connected Tuesday, with the defence minister, Peter Dutton, saying Australia’s cardinal information state was “kept informed of our each move” successful a “no-surprises strategy” successful the pb up to the woody betwixt the 2 countries and the UK.

The Australian paper on Tuesday reported details of a 15-page confidential agreed communications timeline that the nonfiction said undermined claims by the US president, Joe Biden, that helium did not cognize Australia had not informed France earlier astir the cancellation of the French submarine contract.

The bonzer rift betwixt Australia and France flows from Macron’s accusation that Morrison lied to him implicit plans with the US and the UK to get nuclear-propelled submarines. Morrison rejected the claim and said helium was “not going to bull sledging of Australia”.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and the Australian Financial Review reported Macron had texted Morrison 2 days earlier the Aukus announcement successful mid-September to say: “Should I expect bully oregon atrocious quality for our associated submarines ambitions?”

The leaked connection – shared to reenforce Australia’s presumption that France wasn’t blindsided astir the cancellation of the $A90bn submarine woody – besides appeared to corroborate Macron did not cognize which mode Australia would spell soon earlier Aukus was unveiled.

It was besides reported Macron told Morrison successful June, “I don’t similar losing,” aft the Australian premier curate raised interest successful Paris astir whether the 12 planned conventionally powered submarines were inactive suitable for Australia’s strategical needs.

Labor’s overseas affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, said Morrison was “willing to trash alliances and partnerships for idiosyncratic governmental interests, alternatively of simply admitting this could person been handled better”.

“Mr Morrison needs to explicate however selective substance messages betwixt him and the French president, and the contents of a confidential 15-page papers negotiated successful concealed betwixt President Biden’s National Security Council and Australian and British officials ended up successful Australian newspapers,” Wong said.

“Mr Morrison needs to regularisation retired that this backgrounding came from him, his bureau oregon his government. His furious attempts astatine harm power volition lone marque satellite leaders spot him less.”

Morrison’s bureau connected Tuesday declined to respond to Wong’s comments, pointing to the premier minister’s comments a time earlier.

Morrison was asked successful Glasgow connected Monday: “Why did you determine to leak that substance message?”

The premier curate did not straight contention the claim, but said helium didn’t mean to “indulge your editorial connected that”.

Morrison told reporters Macron “was acrophobic that this would beryllium a telephone telephone that would effect successful the determination of Australia not to proceed with the contract”.

Morrison said the French defence strategy “flew into action” the time aft his meal with Macron astatine the Élysée Palace successful June to question to code issues with the task – including sending a French admiral to Australia “to effort and prevention the contract”.

The French embassy successful Canberra did not remark connected the merchandise of the substance message, though the ambassador, Jean-Pierre Thébault, is owed to code the National Press Club connected Wednesday.

Comment has besides been sought from the US embassy and the White House.

Earlier, a elder White House authoritative declined to clarify who Biden was referring to erstwhile helium told Macron successful Rome past week: “I was nether the content that France had been informed agelong earlier that the woody was not going through. I, honorable to God, did not cognize you had not been.”

Biden’s nationalist information advisor Jake Sullivan – erstwhile asked connected Monday astir Morrison’s handling of the substance - replied: “We should look guardant and not backward.”

Hervé Lemahieu, the probe manager astatine the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, said Australia had each close to determine to rescind the French declaration and to participate into Aukus, but the connection with France “could person been handled with a spot much deft and diplomacy”.

Lemahieu said the alleged merchandise of the texts was “highly unconventional behaviour betwixt authorities leaders” and reflected “how personalised the squabble has become”.

“I deliberation the cardinal adaptable present is that some President Macron and and Prime Minister Morrison are 2 men who look elections successful 2022, and they some spot the fracas arsenic a stroke to their prestige and their idiosyncratic lasting and they are chiefly speaking to a home assemblage here, alternatively than to each other.”

Lemahieu said helium had been monitoring French quality stories successful caller days “and this is simply a bigger communicative successful Australia than it is successful France”.

He said the handling of the communications with France was “as overmuch an American mismanagement arsenic an Australian one” – arsenic the US is simply a ceremonial pact state of France.

Lemahieu said Biden had “basically decided that it was worthy pushing Australia nether the autobus successful bid to salvage” the US narration with France.

The erstwhile Liberal premier curate Malcolm Turnbull – who announced the concern with France to get submarines successful 2016 – said Morrison “should apologise” to Macron “because helium did precise elaborately and duplicitously deceive France”.

The erstwhile Labor premier curate Kevin Rudd said the concern had go an “extraordinary mess” wherever “we present person got heads of government, effectively, leaking against each other, successful bid to found what transpired successful these informal substance messages betwixt heads of government”.

“Mr Morrison is present digging an adjacent bigger spread for himself, not conscionable successful narration to the French, by efficaciously himself accusing the French president of lying, but besides (in) bonzer inheritance briefing astir the nonaccomplishment successful Mr Morrison’s presumption of American officials to decently apprise the United States president of the quality of the cancellation of the French deal,” Rudd told the ABC.