France says Australia hits 'new low' leaking Macron texts

AP , Wednesday 3 Nov 2021

Australia leaking French President Emmanuel Macron's text messages to the media was a ``new low'' and a warning to other world leaders that their private communications with the Australian government could be weaponized and used against them, the French ambassador said on Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron during media confrence
File Photo: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels. AP

French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault used an address to Australia's National Press Club to make a withering attack on Canberra's surprise decision to scrap a 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) contract with France to build a fleet of 12 diesel-electric submarines.

Australian media on Tuesday reported the contents of a text message from Macron to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September in which the French leader asked: ``Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarines ambitions?''

Morrison used it as proof that Macron knew the deal was in doubt after Macron accused the Australian leader of lying during a Paris dinner in June. Macron said Morrison gave him no indication the deal would not go ahead.

Australia canceled the deal when it formed an alliance with U.S. and Britain to acquire a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines built with U.S. technology.

Morrison maintains that he did not lie to the French leader and had been clear that conventional submarines would not meet Australia's evolving strategic needs.

``Claims were made and claims were refuted,'' Morrison said. ``Australia made the decision not to go ahead with a contract for a submarine that was not going to do the job that Australia needed it to do, and I'll never make any apologies for that decision.'' 

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