[News] Emmanuel Macron slams Scott Morrison for entering “a nuclear confrontation” with China over submarines

Bangkok: French President Emmanuel Macron has reignited his feud with Scott Morrison, accusing the former prime minister of entering a “nuclear confrontation” with China by seeking to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact.

Macron famously accused Morrison of lying to him by not informing him until the last minute that he was planning to cancel a $90 billion contract with French company Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines for Australia.

Anthony Albanese meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G20 summit.Credit:James Brickwood

Although Macron has developed a strong working relationship with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the scrapping of the submarines deal still rankles him over a year later.

Macron said the prospect of France supplying Australia with some submarines was still “on the table”, even as the government pushes ahead with AUKUS.

A day after holding a bilateral meeting with Albanese on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Macron told reporters in Bangkok that France had been helping Australia develop a sovereign submarine-building capacity.

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“So it was both industrial cooperation and giving sovereignty to Australia because they will maintain the submarines themselves, and it is not confrontational to China because they are not nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.

“But the choice made by [former] prime minister Morrison was the opposite, re-entering into nuclear confrontation, making himself completely dependent by deciding to equip themselves [with a] submarine fleet that the Australians are incapable of producing and maintaining in-house.”

Although his comments were aimed at Morrison, Macron’s critique of Australia’s new submarine policy as a form of “nuclear confrontation” with China would also apply to the Albanese government, given it is sticking with the previous AUKUS plan.

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