The Australian government has agreed to pay €550 million (AU$830 million) in a settlement with Naval Group over the former Morrison government’s controversial decision to scrap the French attack submarine project.
Prime Minister, Anthony AlbaneseOn Saturday, the secret settlement would put an end to the scrapped $90 billion project. Labor provided bipartisan support for the Aukus Partnership that replaced the project – under which the US and UK offered to help Australia acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines and collaborate on other advanced technologies.
However, Albanese said on Saturday that the manner in which Morrison’s previous government handled “caused enormous tension in the relationship between Australia and France”.
This is a fair and equitable settlement that has been reached. This also follows my discussions with the President [Emmanuel] Macron and I thank him for those discussions and the friendly way in which we are re-establishing a better relationship between Australia and France.
The agreement was drafted by the new Labor government just three weeks after the federal election. Albanese stressed that the previous government did not reach it before the elections and kept it a secret.
The total cost of the failed submarine project to Australian taxpayers is $3.4 billion, down from the $5.5 billion billed as the total government-approved budget for the project. As Guardian Australia I mentioned earlierofficials had considered this an extreme “envelope”.
Albanese said that despite the low cost, it was still “an extraordinary waste from a government that has always been great in advertising but not so good on delivery, and from a government that will be remembered as the most wasteful in Australian history since union”.
The prime minister said he would allow Australia to move forward in its relationship with France. Macron accused Morrison of lying to him about the deal, and Morrison later said he would “not police skates in Australia”.
Part of the texting exchange Between the two leaders were released to various Australian media in an apparent attempt to undermine the idea that France had been completely stunned by the cancellation.
French officials Denounce the leak as an “unprecedented new low”.
By contrast, Macron warmly welcomed Albanese’s election to office last month, extending an invitation to Albanese to visit Paris, which the prime minister said he accepted.
Details are being worked through. We have a critical relationship. France, of course, plays a crucial role in the European Union. And President Macron, of course, was recently re-elected, I was newly elected and it is important that we participated – I appreciated the message of congratulations he sent and the fact that we both want to restore relations between our two countries,” he said.
“I see the personal meeting between myself and President Macron in France as absolutely vital to restoring that relationship, which is important to Australia’s national interests.”
On Thursday opposition leader Peter Dutton, He said he made a plan as defense minister Ahead of the election to buy two Virginia-class submarines by 2030 to fill the gap before the nuclear submarines were delivered, claiming it “formed a judgment that the Americans could have facilitated exactly that.”
Albanese said on Saturday that Dutton oversaw a “comprehensive declaration and no-delivery” system.
“You’re not defending your country and our national security with a media release – you’re defending it with operational capabilities,” he said. My government intends to focus on making that statement rather than statements Peter Dutton It contradicts all the statements he made when he was defense minister.”
As for whether Australia is negotiating the submarines that Dutton mentioned, Albanese said he would not make “quick comments” about national security and defence.
The Okos The declaration also forced the United Kingdom and the United States to do damage control with France. France’s defense minister last year canceled talks with her British counterpart after the deal was announced, while US President Joe Biden had a 30-minute call with Macron to mend ties after France recalled its ambassador from Washington.
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