Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will reportedly find it easier to mend relations with France, following the scrapped submarine deal saga, “because he is not Scott Morrison”, according to former PM Malcolm Turnbull.
The call from Turnbull comes as Albanese prepares to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in an effort to thaw relations between the two nations after Morrison scrapped a decade-long French submarine contract in favour of acquiring nuclear vessels as part of the AUKUS alliance.
As a consequence of the scrapped contract, Albanese announced on Saturday, June 11 that Australia would compensate the French-based Naval Group a total of $830 million.
“As part of the settlement Australia will pay the Naval Group 555 million Euros which equates to around $830 million Australian. This is a fair and an equitable settlement which has been reached,” Albanese recently told reporters.
“It follows as well discussions that I’ve had with President Macron and I thank him for those discussions and the cordial way in which we are re-establishing a better relationship between Australia and France.”
In addition to compensation, Albanese organised to meet with the French President in what he labelled an “absolutely vital” effort to reset relations between Australia and France.
While talking to French media and Australia’s The Guardian on Wednesday, June 29, Turnbull said rebuilding the trust between the two nations was important while offering his support to Albanese.
“The meeting this week will be important because Mr Albanese can in effect turn the page on an unedifying episode, and he is not Scott Morrison and that’s a big advantage,” he said.
“I have a good relationship with your president [Macron] and what I’d say about Anthony Albanese is that I’ve known him for a very long time, he’s on the other side of politics from me but we know each other well.
“He’s an honest man and he’s got a reputation for being honest. He never had a reputation for being deceitful and untruthful and he’s very competent. I think he will do well, I hope he does well.”
This isn’t the first instance where Turnbull has voiced his opinions regarding the scrapped submarine deal, earlier this month Turnbull slammed the current Opposition Leader and former Defence Minister Peter Dutton for his part in the scrapping of the decade-long contract.
Speaking to ABC Radio, Turnbull held nothing back as he criticised Dutton’s claims, that he “had planned to buy two Virginia-class subs from the US by 2030 in order to plug a gap for the vessels”, describing the former Defence Minister as an aggressive trouble-maker.
“It was just more blustering from Dutton … he’s a belligerent blusterer who wrecked a submarine contract,” Turnbull said.
“We’re now in a position where we don’t have any submarine program at all.
“Between Morrison and Dutton they did enormous damage to Australia’s national security.”