The federal opposition has continued to whip the prime minister for his handling of a worsening diplomatic dispute between Australia and France over a submarine contract that has been closed.
- Shadow Secretary of State Penny Wong says Scott Morrison is damaging Australia’s international reputation
- Morrison has vehemently denied that he lied to President Emmanuel Macron about ending the sub-agreement
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended Mr Morrison and said the allegation that he lied had to be refuted
Earlier this week, during the G20 summit in Italy, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Scott Morrison of lying to him about a decision to drop a $ 90 billion submarine contract in favor of a deal with the United States and Britain.
Morrison has repeatedly denied the allegations, but faced further questions when a text message from Mr Macron sent to the Prime Minister days before the AUKUS agreement was announced was leaked to a Sydney newspaper.
Yesterday, the French ambassador described the leak of the messages as an “unprecedented new low” and said it was sending a message to other world leaders that Australia was untrustworthy.
Morrison’s position is that it’s time for both Australia and France to ‘move on’.
Shadow Secretary of State Penny Wong said Mr Morrison damaged Australia’s reputation abroad.
“The job of the country’s leader is not to behave in this way by being prepared to throw off the country’s reputation for being a straight shooter.
“It is to deal with the inevitable negative reaction of the French in a mature and responsible way.”
Senator Wong compared Mr Morrison’s actions to Donald Trump and his approach to international diplomacy.
“You do not make a country more secure by demonstrating that you are ready to harm, at all costs, partnerships and alliances. And we have seen a leader who did that – and that person was Donald Trump,” she said.
Senator Wong admitted that it would always be difficult to negotiate the French relationship in the wake of the submarine announcement, but insisted that the Prime Minister should have handled it better.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended Mr Morrison’s actions and told Channel Nine that the proposal the Prime Minister lied to Mr Macron justified a response.
“The claim was quite extraordinary and it had to be refuted,” he said.
“As for the relationship, the French have said ‘well, it’s up to Australia now’.
“We’ve now got some ideas that we’re working on on how we can rebuild the relationship, I think it’s going to take some time.”