— Internet News

France-Australia rift: Dan Tehan, Simon Birmingham dodge awkward question

The Prime Minister has refused to answer questions about the diplomatic spat between Australia and France over a canceled submarine deal. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to answer any further questions about the diplomatic row with France in his first press conference since arriving home from Europe. On Friday, Mr. Morrison was in Sydney when asked to comment on the tensions between Australia and France that plagued his trip to the G20 leader’s summit in Rome and the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. “We’ve moved on from that issue. That’s what I said when I was in Dubai,” was all he would say.

While Mr. Morrison may like to move on, government ministers, including Trade Minister Dan Tehan, have continued to comment on the issue. Earlier on Friday, Mr. Tehan refused to be drawn on whether Mr. Morrison’s leaking of private text messages with the French President was the right decision. Hee maintained trade relations would not suffer. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham attempted to blame Australian journalists for the escalating rift between Australia and France. Mr. Tehan, a former diplomat, said the relationship between Australia and France would eventually heal, and the export trade between the two countries would not suffer.

But when asked whether Mr. Morrison should have leaked private correspondence with Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Tehan refused to answer. “I think the PM said it very well when he said, ‘Let’s not rake over hot coals. Let’s move on,” Mr. Tehan told ABC Breakfast. When asked whether he would leak high-level communication, Mr. Tehan again said he was “not going to rake over hot coals” – an answer he gave four times. “The most important thing is that we move on. We focus on … the importance of the relationship,” he said. “We must focus on these things to get the relationship back on an even keel.

Dan Tehan

“That’s what I will continue to press for whenever I can have that engagement. That’s what I’m looking for with my French counterpart, so I think (that’s) the most important thing now. “Let’s move on.” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham was asked a similar question on RN on Friday morning and said his focus was on “moving things forward”. “I don’t think any of these things help us to be able to move forward, which is what I want us to do. We need to get on and make AUKUS a success simply,” he said.

Mr. Tehan’s comments come after Mr. Morrison’s week-long European sojourn was plagued by tension with Mr. Macron, almost two months after Australia scrapped a $90bn submarine deal to establish a partnership with the US and the UK that would lead to nuclear defense capabilities. French authorities say the scrapping of the deal was an unexpected “stab in the back”, but Mr. Morrison says the French were given an indication the contract would be torn up. As a result, Mr. Macron was asked by Australian journalists whether he thought Mr. Morrison had lied to him, to which he replied, “I don’t think, I know.”

On Wednesday, the French ambassador told the National Press Club he knew of other examples of Australia lying to France. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull also brandished Mr. Morrison as having a “reputation for telling lies”. Text messages between the two leaders, supposedly leaked by the Prime Minister’s Office, were given to Australian media to strengthen Mr. Morrison’s position. Still, Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault labeled it a “new low” and “intentional deceit”.

Mr. Birmingham said people could “ask whether it was wise (in retrospect) to leak the texts”. Still, it sought to blame the escalating spat back on Australian journalists, saying the press had “pressured” Mr. Macron to call Mr. Morrison a liar. “People could ask the question as to whether it was wise for journalists to pressure the French President, pressure in regards to his comments don’t want to get into any of those sorts of things,” Mr. Birmingham told RN. “I don’t think any of these things help us to move forward, which is what I want to ensure we do in the relationship.”

Mr. Tehan said the economic relationship between the two countries was to “France’s advantage” and would not suffer as the tit-for-tat continues. “We take over $5bn worth of exports by France; we sent them about a billion. There is a solid investment relationship,” Mr. Tehan said. “All the mention I had, the French investors were still looking to Australia as a great opportunity investment opportunity same is for Australian investors here, so I think we will see the economic relationship continue as normal.” Published initially as Scott Morrison, Dan Tehan, Simon Birmingham dodge awkward question over leaked text messages Read related topics: Scott Morrison.

Gemma Broadhurst
I am a writer by profession, and I love to write in my spare time. I am one of the most experienced writer for newspriest. I always make sure that whatever is written on my blog is 100% genuine and true. I am a University of Florida graduate pursuing a Master's degree.

Leave a Reply