ScoMo’s Been Overseas For Less Than A Week And Our Relationship With France Is Already Le Cooked
"Confidence has been completely shattered."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s bad week abroad is getting worse and perhaps this is why he wasn’t too keen to go to COP26 in the first place, with Australia’s relationship with France hanging on by a thread.
As reported on Monday, Scott Morrison has well and truly made a fool of himself in front of fellow leaders on the world stage at the G20 and COP26 summits. But pour one out for Scotty because it has somehow managed to get even worse in the last 24 hours.
Screenshots of text conversations allegedly between French President Emmanuel Macron and Scott Morrison were published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday night after allegedly being leaked by the Prime Minister’s office.
“Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarines ambitions?” Macron reportedly texted Morrison prior to finding out about the AUKUS deal.
While Morrison at first dodged the question on whether or not it was his office that had leaked the messages, he ultimately didn’t deny the leak, but said he is “not going to indulge your editorial on it”.
“What I will simply say is. We were contacted when we were trying to set up the call. [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,” said Morrison.
Regardless of who actually leaked the text, our French mates are not thrilled, with an adviser close to Macron telling French media on Tuesday that the “confidence has been completely shattered.”
“Disclosing a text message exchange between heads of state or government is a pretty crude and unconventional tactic,” said the adviser. They added that disclosing private messages between leaders “would never even enter the head” of Macron.
While the Morrison Government asserts it made multiple attempts to call the French, Macron’s office rejected this by claiming only one call was made — during Macron’s weekly cabinet meeting. “It is difficult to believe that the Australian prime minister has not been advised of this constraint,” the official said. “He knew very well the president was unavailable.”
The French Ambassador Did Not Hold Back
The French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault also slammed the move to leak the private text messages, labelling it “out of this world”.
“The deceit was intentional,” he said to the National Press Club in Canberra. “Because there was far more at stake than providing submarines, because it was a common agreement on sovereignty, sealed with the transmission of highly classified data, the way it was handled was a stab in the back.
“But the way this Australian government decided to turn its back on our solemn and far-reaching partnership, without ever frankly consulting with France, when there were countless opportunities, without having shared frankly and openly its thoughts or without having looked for alternatives with France, is just out of this world.
“With solemn promises and acts, we were supposed to develop a joint approach in the region for the next 50 years. What can any partner of Australia now think? Is this the value of Australia’s signature and commitment?”
Thebault also referenced comments made by other Australians — like former PM Malcolm Turnbull. “These are not things which are done between partners, even less between friends,” he said.
At this point, Australia’s relationship with the French is in absolute tatters and we’ve still got another week and a half of COP26 to go before Scott Morrison can stop making a fool of himself overseas.