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Barnaby Joyce defends leaked texts amid France and Australia’s submarines row



Barnaby Joyce has launched an extraordinary defence of the decision to leak text messages between Scott Morrison and the French president.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has leapt to defend Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the diplomatic row between Australia and France over the axed submarines deal escalates.

Text messages between the two world leaders were sensationally leaked to the media on Monday night in an attempt to discredit French President Emmanuel Macron’s position after he accused Mr Morrison of lying.

Mr Joyce on Wednesday claimed that leaking text messages from a foreign leader was “not as extraordinary” as calling another foreign leader “a liar when they’re not”.

“We had a major political leader call the Prime Minister of Australia a liar and you can’t do that, diplomatically,” he told the ABC.

“You can’t go around calling other leaders of other countries a liar.

“Not (the leader of) a great nation of France. Some tin pot nation in the middle of nowhere, well, I suppose you can say what you like.”

Mr Joyce said the government had been looking at “contingency plans” well before the $90bn submarine contract with France was scrapped in favour of a pact with the US and the UK.

Mr Macron told Australian reporters at a summit in Rome at the weekend that he “knew” Mr Morrison had lied to him over the severing of the contract.

Mr Morrison subsequently denied his account. But just hours later, the text messages emerged, which are believed to have been strategically released to outlets via his office.

French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault earlier on Wednesday accused Mr Morrison of stabbing Paris in the back.

In a major speech to the National Press Club, Mr Thebault said the relationship between the two countries had sunk to a “new low”.

“The deceit was intentional,” Mr Thebault said earlier, as he unloaded on the Prime Minister in a room full of reporters.

“The way it was handled was plainly a stab in the back.

“What, after such events, can any partner of Australia now think, is the value of Australia’s signature?”

Asked if he believed the Prime Minister was “lying about lying”, Mr Thebault replied: “Yes, he was … I have several examples”.

“Maybe there’s a difference between misleading and lying.

“But, you know, among heads of states and governments, when you mislead a friend and an ally, you lie to him.”

He added the release of the text messages signalled Australia could not be trusted.

“You don’t behave like this on personal exchanges of leaders. Doing so also sends a very worrying signal for all heads of state,” the French ambassador said.

“Beware, in Australia there will be leaks. And what you say in confidence to your partners will be eventually used and weaponised against you one day.”

But in a press conference following the ambassador’s speech, Mr Morrison expressed his desire to end the spat, which has dominated headlines over the past week.

“Claims had been made and those claims were refuted,” he said during a stopover in Dubai.

“I don’t think there’s any further profit for anyone in continuing down this path.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Macron raised doubts over whether the AUKUS agreement would even deliver the proposed nuclear powered submarines in a timely manner: “Good luck”.

Echoing his comments, the French ambassador accused Australia of “magical thinking”.

Mr Thebault’s address is the first time he has publicly spoken since being recalled as ambassador following the announcement of the AUKUS agreement.

While he promised France would always stand with Australia, he cautioned against the government using “cheap words and promises of love”.

“We won’t any more buy on cheap words. We won’t buy on promises of love.

“At the same time … this is a golden opportunity. We can rebuild something substantial. But we start from very far away.”

But should Mr Morrison apologise? The ambassador sidestepped the question.

“Eating one share of humble pie may sometimes be difficult. It’s up to everyone to make his own decision,” he said.

Asked if he would follow the ambassador’s advice, Mr Morrison said he would never offer an apology to France for tearing up the agreement.

“Australia made the decision not to go ahead with the contract for a submarine that was not going to do the job that Australia needed to do.

“I’ll never make any apologies for that decision.”

Originally published as ‘Tinpot nation’: Barnaby Joyce defends leaked text messages over France subs row

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Scott Morrison branded a gaslighter over leaked Macron texts



Scott Morrison has been accused of gaslighting a world leader as the diplomatic fallout over a cancelled submarine deal rages on.

Scott Morrison has been accused of gaslighting Emmanuel Macron, in a stinging attack from opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

Text messages between the French President and Mr Morrison on Monday were sensationally leaked on Monday evening, ratcheting up the tensions between the two leaders.

Mr Albanese said it was an “extraordinary step” for the Prime Minister to take.

“The attempted damage control by selectively leaking private text messages is quite an extraordinary step for an Australian Prime Minister to take,” Mr Albanese said.

“Leaders of countries and indeed people in their everyday life need to be able to engage in a professional way.

“And the leaking of this selected text message isn’t the first time that we’ve seen that occur from this Prime Minister.”

The strategically released messages sought to discredit Mr Macron’s version of events as the fracas over a cancelled $90bn submarine contract rages on.

Asked on Monday by Australian reporters if Mr Morrison had lied to the French President, Mr Macron said, “I don’t think. I know.”

But less than 24 hours later, private text messages between the two world leaders were made public.

In the messages, Mr Macron is reported to have asked Mr Morrison if he should expect “good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions” ahead of the AUKUS agreement announcement.

Quizzed about the text disclosure later, Mr Morrison did not deny they were leaked.

“I am not going to indulge your editorial on it,” he said in Glasgow.

“What I will simply say is this. We were contacted when we were trying to set up the call. (The French President) made it pretty clear he was concerned that this would be a phone call that could result in a decision by Australia not to proceed.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Morrison claimed he had informed Mr Macron the conventional submarines being provided by France would not meet Australia’s national interest.

He later added he would not accept questioning of “Australia’s integrity”.

“I must say that I think the statements that were made questioning Australia’s integrity and the slurs that have been placed on Australia, not me, I’ve got broad shoulders,” Mr Morrison said.

“I can deal with that. But those slurs, I’m not going to cop sledging at Australia. I’m not going to cop that on behalf of Australians.”

His inference that France has slurred Australians in Mr Macron’s critique was a sticking point for Mr Albanese.

“Pretending also, the personal criticism of him is criticism of Australia, is using our nation as a human shield,” he added.

“Scott Morrison isn‘t the first leader to see himself as synonymous with his nation … Well, the news for Scott Morrison is he isn’t the state of Australia.”

Originally published as Scott Morrison branded a gaslighter over leaked Macron texts

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Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26



After a series of frosty encounters at the G20 summit in Rome, Scott Morrison has finally found a mate at Cop26.

Scott Morrison has been thanked for being a “dear friend” to India on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning took to Twitter to declare there is never “a dull moment” when he’s with his friend Mr Morrison.

It came just hours after he praised the Australian medical regulator’s decision to recognise India’s locally produced Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin.

Mr Morrison later tweeted it was “wonderful” to see his friend at Cop26.

As the G20 leaders’ summit kicked off last week, Australia and India were joined only by China to resist a global bid to phase out coal-fired power and mining.

In his address to the Cop26 summit, Mr Modi committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2070 – two decades later than the rest of the world.

The announcement falls short of a key goal of the climate summit, which is for nations to agree to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US and the EU.

It is the fifth largest export market for Australian coal, and imports into the country have risen off the back of Australian trade woes with China.

Mr Modi also promised his nation would transition to generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

The Indian leader made the most of his time at the UN leaders’ summit, whizzing around to meet with several of his international counterparts.

Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister was pictured with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.

He thanked the royal for his commitment to sustainable development and climate change.

Originally published as Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

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Malcolm Turnbull says Scott Morrison’s ‘duplicity’ was ‘shameful’ over French subs deal



Malcolm Turnbull says his successor should have had an ‘honest and open’ conversation about Australia’s nuclear future before breaking decades of diplomatic trust.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed Scott Morrison for his “sneaky, “shameful” and “duplicitous” behaviour that has strained Australia’s diplomatic relationship with France.

Speaking from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison “should apologise” for “double dealing” the French over the submarine deal.

Mr Turnbull’s comments come after a day of back-and-forth between Mr Morrison and French President Emmanuel Macron, who accused Mr Morrison of lying about dumping their $90bn submarine contract in favour of a nuclear powered pact with the US and the UK.

Less than 24 hours after the public accusation, private text messages, presumably leaked from the Prime Minister’s Office, emerged, essentially undermining Mr Macron’s statement.

Speaking from Glasgow, Mr Morrison said he “would not cop a sledging” from Mr Macron and he had tried to set up a call with him before the AUKUS announcement in September that led to the diplomatic fallout.

“(Mr Macron) made it pretty clear he was concerned that this would be a phone call that could result in a decision by Australia not to proceed,” Mr Morrison said from Glasgow.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison should cease hitting back and apologise.

“Firstly, because he did very elaborately and duplicitously deceive France,” he said.

“We had a relationship of the deepest trust and confidence with France – the French shared with us some of their most secret technology on submarines. It was a partnership between two nations as a cornerstone of France-Indo-Pacific strategy and to be double dealing with them the way Morrison did was shameful.

“I mean (US President) Joe Biden has acknowledged that.

“Morrison’s conduct has done enormous damage.”

Mr Morrison told reporters in Glasgow that during dinner in June with Mr Macron he had clearly told the French President that conventional submarines would no longer meet Australia’s strategic interests and any decision to transition to nuclear-powered ships would be in Australia’s national interests.

“The (French) submarine contract was a significant investment decision taken five years ago. At that point … the attack class submarine was the right decision,” Mr Morrison said from Glasgow.

“But there have been significant changes which have completely changed the game.”

Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison should have dealt with Mr Macron “honestly” instead of “dropping hints”.

“What we should have done, and nuclear propulsion for submarines has always been an option for us … but what we should have done was had an honest and open conversation,” Mr Turnbull said.

“An honest person would have sat down with France, brought in the Americans … and said ‘look, we think we should move to nuclear propulsion’.

“The French submarine that we were working on was actually designed as a nuclear submarine and it was Australia’s request that it had conventional diesel electric propulsion.

“All Scott needed to do was to be honest and open, and that’s exactly what Biden has criticised him for because there wasn’t consultation.

“ If we had had an honest and open conversation, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. This is all the product of Scott’s duplicity.”

Originally published as Malcolm Turnbull says Scott Morrison’s ‘duplicity’ was ‘shameful’ over French subs deal

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Scott Morrison addresses Emmanuel Macron nuclear submarines deal fallout at COP26



Scott Morrison has issued a blistering response after French President Emmanuel Macron accused him of lying.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sensationally rebuked Emmanuel Macron after the French president called him a liar.

Mr Morrison told reporters in Glasgow on Monday night that he made no apology for his decision to abandon a $90 billion submarine contract with France.

Mr Macron had accused Mr Morrison of lying by not revealing that Australia had been in talks with the UK and US over the acquisition of nuclear submarines.

Mr Macron made the extraordinary comment to Australian reporters at the G20 summit in Rome, after weeks of escalating diplomatic tensions between France and Australia.

“I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistent with this value,” he said.

When asked if he thought Mr Morrison had lied to him, he said: “I don’t think, I know”.

In response, Mr Morrison said he did not wish to “personalise the spat” but would not accept “statements questioning Australia’s integrity”.

“I’m not going to cop sledging on Australia,” he told reporters.

He said the conventional diesel submarines that would have been built under the deal with France would not have met Australia’s strategic needs.

“I have to put Australia’s interests before any interests that involved potentially offending others,” he said.

“The (French) submarine contract was a significant investment decision taken five years ago. At that point, given the strategic circumstance, time and technology available to Australia the attack class submarine was the right decision.

“But there have been significant changes that have occurred in our strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific, which completely changed the game.”

Mr Morrison laid out a timeline about when Australia pulled out of the deal.

The Prime Minister provided a blow-by-blow of when he raised concerns, touching on when he raised issues with the French contract, including significant delays.

Mr Morrison said he acted to abandon the deal in Australia’s national interests, and Mr Macron was given some advance warning the French deal was not working.

He said French officials had attempted to appease Australia’s concerns, without success.

Both leaders have been at the G20 summit and are now in Glasgow for the COP26 Climate Change conference.

More to come

Originally published as Morrison says ‘I won’t cop sledging on Australia’ amid nuclear subs fallout

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Macron says Australian PM lied to him over subs spat



France’s President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he addresses media at a press conference in Rome on October 31, 2021, during the G20 Summit

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said Australia’s prime minister outright lied to him over a cancelled submarine deal, deepening an already fraught diplomatic crisis.

Morrison on Sunday defended his behaviour, refuting Macron’s view and denying that he lied to the French leader at a private meeting in June.

Originally published as Macron says Australian PM lied to him over subs spat




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Rome G20: Morrison briefly greets French President Emmanuel Macron amid submarine feud



Scott Morrison has revealed what he said to the French President when he ran into him in Rome – in the leaders’ first encounter since a “clumsy” action by the PM.

Scott Morrison has said “g’day” to Emmanuel Macron during their first face-to-face encounter since Australia tore up a French submarine deal.

The Prime Minister again defended his government’s decision to abandon the French submarine contract despite US President Joe Biden describing its handling as “clumsy”.

Mr Morrison briefly greeted the French president at the G20 Summit in Rome but the two leaders will not have a bilateral meeting as tensions between the two continues to simmer.

Last month, Australia, the US and the United Kingdom formed a new partnership – AUKUS – which meant Canberra would scrap its $90b submarine deal with Paris in favour of nuclear technologies made available by London and Washington.

France was blindsided by the deal having been advised on the eve of the AUKUS announcement and, as a result, ambassadors were pulled from Canberra and Washington.

Mr Biden ridiculed the handling of the deal in a meeting with the French President in Italy, admitting it “was not done with a lot of grace”.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through,” he said.

“I honest to God did not know you had not been.”

But Mr Morrison defended his government’s diplomatic process and insisted the United States were involved in the strategic handling.

“Australia made the right decision in on our interests to ensure we have the right submarine capability to deal with our strategic interests,” he told reporters in Rome.

“There was never an easy way for us, I think, to get to a point where we had to disappoint a good friend and partner in France that we wouldn’t be proceeding with that contract.

“It was always a difficult decision for Australia, it was the right decision for Australia — we worked closely with the United States and the United Kingdom and we kept them up to date.”

The Prime Minister said he didn’t request a bilateral meeting with the French President at the summit given the tension and wanting to respect Mr Macron’s frustrations though the two briefly greeted during an event in Rome.

“I said g‘day,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Rome.

“He was having a chat to someone, I went up and just put my arm on his shoulder and just said ‘g’day, Emmanuel,’ and ‘look forward to catching up over the next couple of days.’

“That’s the way these events tend to work and he was happy to exchange those greetings.”

Originally published as Rome G20: Morrison briefly greets French President Emmanuel Macron amid submarine feud

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Joe Biden describes France submarine deal snub by AUKUS as ‘clumsy’



The American and French Presidents have sat down in an attempt to repair strained relationships brought about by a submarine deal.

US President Joe Biden has labelled the trilateral handling of a submarine deal, which resulted in a major diplomatic fallout with France, as “clumsy”.

Last month, Australia, the US and the United Kingdom formed a new partnership – AUKUS – which meant Canberra would scrap its $90b submarine deal with Paris in favour of nuclear technologies made available by London and Washington.

But France was blindsided by the deal having been advised on the eve of the AUKUS announcement. As a result, ambassadors were pulled from Canberra and Washington.

While Mr Biden was able to smooth over relations, Mr Morrison has faced more difficulties in repairing the relationship.

Speaking from the G20 leaders summit in Rome, Mr Biden sat aside Emmanuel Macron in their first face-to-face meeting since the deal was signed, admitting the situation could have been better handled.

“It was … clumsy … it was not done with a lot of grace,” Mr Biden said.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through.

“ … That certain things had happened that hadn’t happened.”

Mr Macron was asked whether repairs with the US had been repaired, saying “we clarified together what we had to clarify.”

It comes after Mr Morrison finally spoke to Mr Macron via phone on the cusp of his flying to Europe on Thursday.

While a readout of the call from Paris suggested Mr Macron expected Australia to do more to rebuild their relationship, Canberra said the dialogue had been “productive”.

According to the Elysee Palace, Mr Macron told Mr Morrison the decision had “broken” trust between the two nations.

“It is now up to the Australian government to propose tangible actions that embody the will of Australia’s highest authorities to reduce the basis of our bilateral relationship,” the readout said.

In contrast, a spokesperson for Mr Morrison described the phone call as having been a “candid discussion”.

On Friday, Defence Minister Peter Dutton suggested the reason France remained bitter about the deal was because of a looming election.

“Politicians and elections always make for an interesting mix. I think once we get through the next year, hopefully we can continue with steps to normalise the relationship,” Mr Dutton said.

Mr Morrison, who has arrived in Rome, will come face-to-face with Mr Macron at the G20 leaders summit, before they fly to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit.

Originally published as Joe Biden describes France submarine deal snub by AUKUS as ‘clumsy’

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President Emmanuel Macron and Scott Morrison speak after AUKUS fallout



After ignoring Scott Morrison’s pleas for weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron has finally spoken to the Prime Minister.

Scott Morrison and Emmanuel Macron have spoken for the first time since Australia abandoned a major submarine deal with the French last month.

In a readout of the call provided by the Élysée Palace, Mr Macron told Mr Morrison the decision to scrap the French contract in favour of the acquisition of nuclear submarines under the AUKUS alliance with America and the UK “broke” trust between the two nations.

“President Macron recalled that Australia’s unilateral decision to scale back the French-Australian strategic partnership by putting an end to the ocean-class submarine program in favour of another as-yet unspecified project broke the relationship of trust between our two countries,” the statement said.

“The situation of the French businesses and their subcontractors, including Australian companies, affected by this decision will be given our utmost attention.

“It is now up to the Australian Government to propose tangible actions that embody the political will of Australia’s highest authorities to redefine the basis of our bilateral relationship and continue joint action in the Indo-Pacific.

The readout also made reference to the upcoming climate summit in Scotland.

“Looking ahead to the upcoming G20 in Rome and COP26 in Glasgow, the President of the French Republic encouraged the Australian Prime Minister to adopt ambitious measures commensurate with the climate challenge,” the French said.

“In particular the ratcheting up of the nationally determined contribution, the commitment to cease production and consumption of coal at the national level and abroad, and greater Australian support to the International Solar Alliance.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has been contacted for comment.

More to come.

Originally published as Morrison and Macron speak for first time since AUKUS fallout

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Scotty departs for Scotland for major climate talks



The Prime Minister is set to face world leaders for the first time since committing Australia to carbon neutral by 2050.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flown off for key climate talks with a commitment but without finalised modelling for his plan.

Mr Morrison will meet with world leaders first at the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome before travelling to Glasgow for the much anticipated United Nations COP26 climate summit.

It is the first in-person gathering of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies since the pandemic started.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor will accompany the Prime Minister on his VIP jet “Shark One”.

In a statement prior to his departure, Mr Morrison said the pandemic and climate would be at the top of his agenda during his time overseas.

“These important international meetings come as the world has reached a critical point in our health response and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and our collective effort to address the challenges of climate change,” Mr Morrison said.

“COP26 will be crucial in the global effort to address the challenges of climate change.

“I look forward to supporting Prime Minister Johnson, as host of COP26, to achieve our Paris Agreement objectives and collaborate to collectively deliver net zero emissions by 2050.”

Also on Mr Morrison’s agenda will be his pitch to leaders to thwart the power of social media giants.

“We need to fully harness the benefits of digitalisation, but in doing that, making sure the rules that apply in the real world, apply in the digital world,” he told reporters earlier on Thursday.

“I will continue to press, as Australia always has, and show the leadership on this issue globally that we must hold social media platforms to account.”

After a turbulent week in parliament, the arrival of the COP26 summit will bring little relief to Mr Morrison, who is set to face calls to lift Australia’s climate targets beyond his 2050 pledge.

In the days since his policy release, Mr Morrison has copped criticism for the strategy, which lacks a solid 2030 commitment.

Instead, Mr Morrison will take projections to Glasgow, which, if reached, could reduce Australia’s emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030.

He’s also set to be reunited with former colleague Mathias Cormann, who is likely to press Australia to adopt stronger climate targets – including a carbon pricing scheme.

In a statement overnight, Mr Cormann said progress across G20 nations remained “uneven”.

“G20 economies are lifting their ambition and efforts, including through the explicit and implicit pricing of carbon emissions,” the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development secretary-general said.

“However, progress remains uneven across countries and sectors, and is not well enough coordinated globally.

“We need a globally more coherent approach which enables countries to lift their ambition and effort to the level required to meet global net zero by 2050, with every country carrying an appropriate and fair share of the burden while avoiding carbon leakage and trade distortions.

“Carbon prices and equivalent measures need to become significantly more stringent and globally better coordinated to properly reflect the cost of emissions to the planet, and put us on the path to genuinely meet the Paris Agreement climate goals.

OECD analysis found Australia ranked 11th out of 18 countries for carbon pricing, which Australia imposes through fuel excise.

Australia does not have a carbon pricing scheme following the repeal of the Gillard government’s carbon tax in 2014.

Mr Cormann will also attend the G20 talks and COP26 climate summit.

The Prime Minister has previously said he will not introduce a carbon pricing scheme.

Originally published as Scott Morrison departs for Glasgow armed with a net zero commitment but without modelling

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