Kevin Rudd says Morrison must apologize to French President for scrapped $90billion submarine deal


Kevin Rudd has demanded Scott Morrison apologise for scrapping a $90 billion submarine deal with France.

The twice-ousted leader joined fellow ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in ridiculing Mr Morrison’s ‘shameful’ behaviour in how the deal was terminated.

The prime minister declared he wouldn’t cop any ‘sledging of Australia’ after a furious French President Emmanuel Macron labelled him a liar. 

‘At a minimum he should consider apologising to the French for the way in which this has been handled,’ Mr Rudd told the ABC on Wednesday.

‘Scott Morrison is now digging an even bigger hole for himself and not just in relation to the French by accusing their President of lying. 

‘He also gave a briefing in which he outlined the failure of – in his view – American officials to not apprise the US President about the nature of deal.’ 

French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured with wife Brigitte earlier this month) has accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying

French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured with wife Brigitte earlier this month) has accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying

A secret leaked text message (pictured) appears to show that Emmanuel Macron was given warning that Australia would torpedo its $90billion submarine deal with France

A secret leaked text message (pictured) appears to show that Emmanuel Macron was given warning that Australia would torpedo its $90billion submarine deal with France

Mr Rudd said Mr Morrison put ‘short term political interests ahead of long term national security’. 

He also said a leaked text message which appeared to show Mr Macron knew the submarine deal could be torpedoed illustrated the entire process was handled improperly. 

‘The subject of a $90 billion defence contract is not to be the stuff of text messages that’s why you have formal correspondence between heads of government on matters of such fundamental importance,’ he said.

He said the spat could easily be cleared up if Mr Morrison could produce a formal letter written to Mr Macron notifying him beforehand that their deal could be cancelled in favour of nuclear powered submarines provided by Britain and the US. 

‘But now we’ve got this rolling ambiguity about who said what when,’ Mr Rudd said.

‘Had this all been based on normal advice of dealing with matters of high national security we wouldn’t be in this extraordinary mess.’

Mr Rudd added the French should have been asked to submit a tender along with Britain and America to build the nuclear submarines as they also have that capability.

Former PM Kevin Rudd said Mr Morrison should apologise to Emmanuel Macron over his handling of the $90billion submarine deal

Former PM Kevin Rudd said Mr Morrison should apologise to Emmanuel Macron over his handling of the $90billion submarine deal 

Scott Morrison (pictured arriving at Cop26 on Monday) has defended his actions over the French submarine deal

Scott Morrison (pictured arriving at Cop26 on Monday) has defended his actions over the French submarine deal

An awkward handshake in Rome between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron (left)

An awkward handshake in Rome between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron (left)

Mr Morrison and Mr Macron were both in Glasgow this week for the Cop26 UN Climate summit with the issue simmering on the sidelines throughout the conference. 

Mr Macron told Australian journalists at the G20 summit on Sunday: ‘I don’t think, I know’ that the prime minister lied to him about the submarines.

Mr Morrison retaliated on Monday, detailing problems with the program during a news conference at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

‘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,’ he told reporters.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull, also at the Cop26 summit, chimed in overnight when asked about the spat by reporters saying that Mr Morrison has ‘lied to me on many occasions’.

‘I mean there’s quite a few examples in my book, but he’s… Scott has always had a reputation for telling lies,’ he said. 

Malcolm Turnbull has labelled Scott Morrison a "habitual liar" over his handling of the Australia-France submarine deal

Malcolm Turnbull has labelled Scott Morrison a ‘habitual liar’ over his handling of the Australia-France submarine deal

That prompted Queensland Senator Matt Canavan to fire back that Mr Turnbull was still bitter about being replaced as PM in 2018 by Mr Morrison. 

‘I thought Malcolm Turnbull went halfway around the world to save the planet, but apparently he’s gone to just grind more axes’,’ the senator told the Today show on Wednesday.

‘Obviously, three years on from losing his job it still hurts. He’s trying to take it out here.

‘He’s just become a bit of a tosser, hasn’t he? He just constantly seems to gripe about these things.

‘He’s gone all this way over to Glasgow, you’d think he would focus on those issues that are obviously very personally passionate to him.’

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan called Mr Turnbull a "tosser" over the comments and said he was still bitter about being replaced as Prime Minister by Mr Morrison in 2018

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan called Mr Turnbull a ‘tosser’ over the comments and said he was still bitter about being replaced as Prime Minister by Mr Morrison in 2018 

An Australian Collins class submarine (front) and the UK nuclear-powered attack submarine, HMS Astute (rear) are seen at HMAS Stirling Royal Australian Navy base in Perth in October

An Australian Collins class submarine (front) and the UK nuclear-powered attack submarine, HMS Astute (rear) are seen at HMAS Stirling Royal Australian Navy base in Perth in October

The tensions with the French don’t seem to show any sign of easing with French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault slamming the government’s handling of the deal on Wednesday.

He said France was ‘stabbed in the back’ and brought into question Australia’s word on the international stage. 

‘What can any partner of Australia now think is the value of Australia’s signature and commitment?’ he said in a National Press Club address on Wednesday.

Mr Thebault said the decision was made unilaterally by Australia and the French were not consulted despite ‘countless opportunities’.

‘Without having shared [information] frankly and openly, or having looked for alternatives with France, is just out of this world,’ he said.

Mr Thebault was recalled to Paris in September after Mr Morrison revealed Australia would work with the US and UK on a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS partnership.

Emmanuel Macron (pictured at Cop26 in Glasgow on Monday) has repeatedly claimed Scott Morrison gave him no warning the French submarine deal was to be scrapped

Emmanuel Macron (pictured at Cop26 in Glasgow on Monday) has repeatedly claimed Scott Morrison gave him no warning the French submarine deal was to be scrapped 

Mr Thebault said he returned to Australia to ‘redefine the terms of our bilateral relationship considering… the major breakdown of trust with this Australian government’.

He said Australia had foregone diplomatic trust in Europe as the AUKUS announcement stands in stark contrast to Australia’s strategy to get European allies more involved in the Indo-Pacific region.

‘At the time of increased uncertainty, France is the only European country with permanent and significant assets in the Indo-Pacific region, and a capacity to rapidly step up its presence.’

The ambassador also appeared to take a veiled shot at Defence Minister Peter Dutton, who on Tuesday told 2GB Australia had ‘factored in all along that the French were going to be upset about losing a contract of this size’.

Mr Thebault told the press club the decision to cancel the contract should have set off ‘alarm bells… to the likely consequences’.

France's Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault arrives at Sydney Airport before leaving the country on September 18

France’s Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault arrives at Sydney Airport before leaving the country on September 18

‘And if it was a case and they did ring, and they were disregarded, it’s even worse,’ he said.

The government was even accused of using the AUKUS announcement to make a political statement ahead of the upcoming federal election.

‘Politicians and elections make an interesting mix,’ Mr Thebault quipped.

Mr Thebault added leaking of texts was an ‘unprecedented new low… in terms of truth and trust’.

‘You don’t behave like this,’ he said.

‘Doing so also sends a very worrying signal for all heads of state – be aware, in Australia, there will be leaks.

‘What you say in confidence… will be eventually used and weaponised against you.’ 

Why is Australia building nuclear-powered submarines? 

 Why nuclear submarines?

Nuclear submarines are powered by nuclear reactors which produce heat that creates high-pressured steam to spin turbines and power the boat’s propeller. 

They can run for about 20 years before needing to refuel, meaning food supplies are the only limit on time at sea.

The boats are also very quiet, making it harder for enemies to detect them and can travel at top speed – about 40kmh – for longer than diesel-powered subs.

The first nuclear submarines were put to sea by the United States in the 1950s. They are now also in use by Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, and India. 

A senior US defence official told reporters in Washington DC: ‘This will give Australia the capability for their submarines to basically deploy for a longer period, they’re quieter, they’re much more capable. 

‘They will allow us to sustain and to improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific.’

Zack Cooper, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, said nuclear submarines would hugely boost Australia’s military capability.

‘They are going to be much, much more capable in the large, expansive ocean that is Australia has to deal with,’ he told the ABC.  

Will Australia have nuclear weapons? 

Scott Morrison made it clear that the nuclear-power submarines will not have nuclear missiles on board.

Australia has never produced nuclear weapons and signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1973 which prevents non-nuclear states which don’t already have them from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr Morrison also said the Australia has no plans to build nuclear power stations which are widely used around the world. 

‘But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,’ he said.

‘And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.’  

Are they safe? 

The nuclear reactors are shielded from the rest of the submarine in a separate section to protect the crew from dangerous radiation. 

The US has an excellent safety record with its nuclear-powered fleet although early Russian subs suffered a few accidents which caused 20 servicemen to die from radiation exposure between 1960 and 1985.

At the end of their 20-year lifetimes, the contaminated parts of nuclear reactors need to be disposed deep underground in special waste storage cells. 

Anti-nuclear campaigners say any leaks of radioactive waste could lead to an environmental disaster. 

Greens leader Adam Bandt called the submarines ‘floating Chernobyls’ in reference to the 1986 nuclear power plant explosion in the Soviet Union.

Why now?

Australia needs to replace its six ageing Collins-class submarines. 

In 2016 it signed a deal with French Company Naval Group to build 12 diesel-electric attack subs – but the parties were in dispute over the amount of building that would be done in Australia.

That deal has now been torn up in favour of nuclear powered subs aided by the US and UK who will provide the technology to Australia.

The West is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region where it has made huge territorial claims in the South and East China seas, clashed with Indian troops and repeatedly flown planes over Taiwan.

Mr Morrison wants Australia to have serious defence capability to deter China from encroaching in the Pacific and long-range nuclear submarines are just the ticket. 

China has vastly built up its military in the past few years and now possesses six Shang-class nuclear powered attack submarines, equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles.    



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Written by bourbiza

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