Emmanuel Macron, Scott Morrison: Real reason why French president slammed Australian PM at G20


Emmanuel Macron publicly called Scott Morrison a liar because he was so angry at being ‘left out’ in the Pacific region, according to an expert on France.

Asked by journalists at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow if Mr Morrison lied to him before tearing up a $90billion submarine contract, President Macron replied: ‘I don’t think, I know.’

Mr Morrison has denied lying to Mr Macron and insisted the French knew Australia’s deal to buy 12 submarines was on the rocks before it was torn up in September in favour of a nuclear submarine partnership with the US and UK.

President Macron’s public display of anger was highly unusual and reflects the fury in Paris at the cancellation of what the French press called ‘the contract of the century’ which would have provided enormous economic benefit.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton claimed President Macron’s anger was a bid to win French voters with an election in April, but French affairs expert Professor Peter McPhee of Melbourne University said he’s furious because France’s strategic interests have been set back. 

In May 2018, President Macron announced an Indo-Pacific strategy for the first time, outlining France’s priorities for the region – where it has territories New Caledonia and French Polynesia – such as boosting defence and security, increasing economic growth and upholding the rule of law amid China’s growing assertiveness. 

Promoting co-operation between ‘like-minded partners’ was a key plank of the strategy and the submarine contract with Australia was part of this wider aim.   

‘Back in May 2018, Macron announced a French Indo-pacific strategy while standing next to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney,’ Professor McPhee told Daily Mail Australia.

In May 2018, President Macron announced an Indo-Pacific strategy for the first time. Pictured: Allied ships conduct operations in the Indo-Pacific last month

In May 2018, President Macron announced an Indo-Pacific strategy for the first time. Pictured: Allied ships conduct operations in the Indo-Pacific last month

In May 2018, President Macron (second left) announced a French Indo-pacific strategy while standing next to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (second right) in Sydney

In May 2018, President Macron (second left) announced a French Indo-pacific strategy while standing next to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (second right) in Sydney

‘And in an update as recently as August this year, the submarine contract with our ”great ally” Australia was seen to be quite pivotal to that.

‘France has been developing this major strategy for the region and this [cancellation] strikes at the heart of that,’ he added.

‘It’s led to the French Government feeling left out of key strategic decisions about the Indo-Pacific.

‘It’s not just a submarine contract, it’s France’s place in the region.’

Professor McPhee said it was extremely rare for leader to publicly accuse an ally of lying.

‘I really can’t think of a previous occasion. Macron has seen Australia as the key partner for France in the Pacific and for an ally to say the leader of allied country has lied – that’s normally something that’s done over a drink rather than on the side-lines of a conference,’ he said.

‘It was done very deliberately. There was a white heat behind what he said. Macron was furious, and not just because of the submarines.’

When Mr Dutton claimed President Macron is showing his anger to appeal to French voters ahead of a challenge from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, he said: ‘Politicians and elections always make for an interesting mix.’

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has claimed that President Macron (pictured with wife Bridgette last month) is showing his anger to appeal to French voters ahead of a presidential election in April

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has claimed that President Macron (pictured with wife Bridgette last month) is showing his anger to appeal to French voters ahead of a presidential election in April

President Macron is facing a challenge from far right candidate Marine Le Pen (pictured) with the election in April 2022

President Macron is facing a challenge from far right candidate Marine Le Pen (pictured) with the election in April 2022

Professor McPhee said domestic politics was a factor but all parties in France had a similar reaction to the submarine cancellation.

‘For Macron, yes, this is humiliating with an election coming up, but every political party in France was indignant about what happened,’ he said.

‘Dutton’s remark is an easy remark to minimise the significance of this just to say ”the French are playing politics” but there’s a lot more to it than that.

‘It needs to be said that the indignation in France has been right across the political spectrum. 

‘The main newspaper on the Left in France, Libération, had an eight pages about the contract being cancelled.

‘The main conservative newspaper Le Figaro, has had much the same reaction,’ he said.       

More than 1.6million people live in New Caledonia and French Polynesia and three-quarters of the French exclusive economic zone is in the Indo‑Pacific.     

New Caledonia is facing a third independence referendum on December 12. 

Mr Morrison (pictured at the Glasgow climate conference) has denied lying to Mr Macron and insisted the French knew Australia's deal to buy 12 submarines was on the rocks before it was torn up in September

Mr Morrison (pictured at the Glasgow climate conference) has denied lying to Mr Macron and insisted the French knew Australia’s deal to buy 12 submarines was on the rocks before it was torn up in September



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