Anthony Albanese says Australia may make a grovelling apology to France and Emmanuel Macron over submarine brouhaha
- Anthony Albanese to dine with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris
- Mr Albanese says he will repair ‘trust’ issues over axed submarine deal
- French left seething over Morrison government’s $90 billion contract backflip
- Australia forking out $835 million in compensation to French shipbuilder
Humble pie appears be on the menu for Anthony Albanese as he pledges to smooth over a cancelled submarine project that left the French seething despite Australia paying millions in compensation.
The Australian Prime Minister is set to dine with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and would not rule out saying sorry over the Morrison government’s of dumping of a $90 billion submarine contract.
In the following furore Mr Macron accused then prime minister Scott Morrison of lying, which has led Mr Albanese to plead that he will sort out ‘trust’ issues.
In refusing to rule out offering an apology during their lunch at the Elysee Palace Mr Albanese said bridges still needed to built.
‘I look forward to having a constructive relationship with President Macron,’ he said.
Anthony Albanese who says he is on a repair mission to restore ‘trust’ with the French speaks at the OECD Headquarters at Chataeu de la Muette in Paris
The Morrison government’s cancellation of $90 billion deal to buy submarines from French shipbuilder Naval Group caused an abiding rift between Australia and France
‘I’ve made it very clear what my position is about the way in which Australia engaged at a leadership level with friends.
‘What I want to do though is to make sure that we can move forward … It should be a relationship where we can rely upon each other … in which we can trust each other and mutually benefit.’
When asked if French businesses could trust him after the ‘betrayal’ and ‘deception’ over the submarine contract under the previous coalition government, Mr Albanese said ‘absolutely’.
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) even accused then Australian prime minister Scott Morrison of lying in the fallout of the cancelled submarine contract
‘Everyone should be able to trust me, that’s the way I deal with people … that’s how I got to be prime minister,’ he said.
The Australian government will pay French shipbuilder Naval Group $835 million in compensation, after last year’s decision to tear up a $90-billion contract to build 12 submarines.
Opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie tried to distance the previous government from the compensation amount.
‘There were private conversations with Defence, but this is a settlement which Mr Albanese has come to,’ Mr Hastie said.
‘We were aiming for a significantly lower figure.’
Mr Albanese was all smiles as he met with a former political foe Mathias Cormann, who quit as the Morrison government’s finance minister to successfully campaign to become OECD Secretary-General
The Morrison government decided to scrapped the deal in favour of nuclear-powered submarines, which became available under the AUKUS partnership with the UK and US.
In his first phone call with his new Australian Labor counterpart after the May federal election, Mr Macron reminded Mr Albanese of what Paris described as a ‘severe breach of trust’.
Mr Albanese said it was time for the relationship between Paris and Canberra to ‘enter a new dawn’ after a ‘breakdown’.
The prime minister said he would also discuss a free trade deal with Europe during his meeting with Mr Macron and that the leaders would have ‘more to say’ afterwards.
‘President Macron wants to have a good relationship with Australia, and Australia wants to have a good relationship with him,’ Mr Albanese said.
Mr Albanese’s time in Paris got off to wet start when he and his partner Jodie Haydon landed at Charles de Gaulle airport
The fractured relations between the two nations are one of two reasons negotiations for the trade deal have stalled, the other being a lack of climate change action by Australia.
Mr Albanese on Thursday met with former coalition finance minister and current OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, with the pair warmly shaking hands in front of flags representing its member nations.
He then addressed the OECD council and was asked questions by members, including the US, about Australia’s action on climate change, Lithuania, Australia’s aid to Ukraine, Japan and international law in the Indo-Pacific.
Mr Albanese also met with France’s peak business body and its largest employer federation, Mouvement des Entreprises de France, to discuss investment opportunities in Australia.
Meanwhile, Mr Albanese is awaiting security advice on whether he can safely visit the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, after an invitation by President Volodymyr Zelensky.