The federal opposition have continued to lash the Prime Minister for his handling of a worsening diplomatic row between Australia and France over a ditched submarine contract.
Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says Scott Morrison is damaging Australia’s international reputation
Mr Morrison has strongly denied he lied to President Emmanuel Macron about ending the sub deal
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended Mr Morrison, saying the claim he lied had to be refuted
Earlier this week, during the G20 meeting in Italy, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Scott Morrison of lying to him about a decision to ditch a $90 billion submarine contract in favour of a deal with the US and UK.
Mr Morrison has repeatedly denied the accusation, but faced further questions when a text message from Mr Macron sent to the Prime Minister days before the AUKUS deal was announced was leaked to a Sydney newspaper.
Yesterday, the French ambassador described the leaking of the messages as an “unprecedented new low” and said it sent a message to other world leaders that Australia was untrustworthy.
Mr Morrison’s position is that it is time for both Australia and France to “move on”.
Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said Mr Morrison was damaging Australia’s reputation abroad.
“The job of the leader of the country is not to behave this way, by being prepared to trash the country’s reputation for being a straight shooter.
“It’s to deal with the inevitable negative response of the French in a mature and responsible way.”
Senator Wong likened the actions of Mr Morrison to Donald Trump and his approach to international diplomacy.
“You don’t make a country more secure by demonstrating that you’re prepared to damage, at any cost, partnerships and alliances. And we’ve seen a leader who did that — and that person was Donald Trump,” she said.
Senator Wong admitted negotiating the French relationship in the wake of the submarine announcement was always going to be difficult, but insisted the Prime Minister should have handled it better.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended Mr Morrison’s actions, telling Channel Nine the suggestion the Prime Minister lied to Mr Macron warranted a response.
“The claim was pretty extraordinary and it needed to be refuted,” he said.
“In terms of the relationship, the French have said ‘well, it’s now up to Australia’.
“We’ve now got some ideas that we’re working on as to how we can rebuild that relationship, I think it will take some time.”
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