Sydney: Former Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull said his successor “deliberately deceived” France when he scrapped a multi-billion-euro submarine deal with Paris in favor of nuclear-powered US or British alternatives.
Turnbull, whose government approved the submarine deal with France in 2016, was scathing about the way Prime Minister Scott Morrison handled the switch, which was part of a new strategic alliance with the United States and Britain.
“Morrison has not acted in good faith. He deliberately deceived France. He makes no defense of his conduct other than to say it was in Australia’s national interest,” Turnbull told the National Press Club in Canberra.
“France believes it has been deceived and humiliated, and she was. This betrayal of trust will dog our relations with Europe for years,” he added.
“The Australian government has treated the French Republic with contempt.”
Morrison has said the decision to switch to nuclear-powered submarines was driven by changing dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region, where rising military power China is increasingly asserting its claims to almost the entire South China Sea.
But Paris reacted with fury to the switch, saying it has lost a contract originally worth Aus$50 billion ($36.5 billion, 31 billion euros).