Peter Dutton says France reaction over submarine deal politically motivated

Headshot of Sarah Ison
Sarah IsonThe West Australian
Australia's Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton.
Camera IconAustralia's Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton. Credit: DARREN ENGLAND/AAPIMAGE

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has urged France to “move on” from the spat with Australia over the cancelled submarine deal, hinting the country’s reaction has been politically motivated.

Tension between France and Australia ratcheted up this week, with French President Emmanuel Macron calling Scott Morrison a liar in regards to Australia’s true intention for the $90 billion submarine deal with France.

The Prime Minister quickly hit back and said he would not allow Australia to be “sledged” and defended the leaking of text messages between the two leaders that showed Mr Macron knew the deal was in danger leading up to the official announcement.

Mr Dutton said France would have reacted the same way regardless of the notice Australia gave to them.

“The fact is, the French were going to be upset whenever they were told in any circumstance,” he said on 2GB.

“We’ve seen the reaction now. It would have been the reaction had they been told sooner or later in between, it wouldn’t have mattered.”

He pointed to the French election next year as one reason for the intensity of their criticism.

“The French have got an election coming up in April, you understand all of that posturing,” he said.

The Labor Party on Thursday slammed Mr Morrison’s handling of the relationship and the leaking of text messages.

“It’s quite extraordinary for the leader of a major nation, like France, to say the Australian Prime Minister lied to them. And it’s quite extraordinary for them, in response, for the Australian Prime Minister to release a private text message that doesn’t really show much,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Tuesday, September 28, 2021. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING
Camera IconFederal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney. Credit: JOEL CARRETT/AAPIMAGE

“It’s an extraordinary breach of protocol for that to occur.

“I think that the Prime Minister really needs to engage in a more diplomatic way with our friends and allies.”

Shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong compared Mr Morrison to former US president Donald Trump.

We have seen in recent articles, a leader who was prepared to damage alliances and partnerships, and that was Donald Trump and we are seeing Mr Morrison being prepared to damage relationships in the way I’ve described by the provision of private information ... he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he’s done anything wrong,” she said.

“It is vandalism, the way in which this has been dealt with by the government. It is a wanton disregard for our international reputation.”

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