'DECEITFUL': Turnbull slams Scott Morrison for 'trashing Australia's reputation'

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Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken another swipe at Scott Morrison, over what he insists was a "deceitful" handling of the French submarine deal.

Mr Turnbull's dig at the current prime minister comes as French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault is returning to Canberra after being recalled back to France, following the AUKUS submarine deal.

Australia scrapped its 2016 agreement for 12 conventional vessels from France in favour of access to technology for nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact with the US and UK.

Mr Thebault told ABC radio on Friday France does not know if it can trust Australia after being lied to.

Malcolm Turnbull, pictured here with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018, has once again slammed Scott Morrison for the scrapping of the French deal. Source: AFP via Getty Images
Malcolm Turnbull, pictured here with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018, has torn into Scott Morrison for the scrapping of the French deal. Source: AFP via Getty Images

"Confidence is not something you throw away when it's convenient," he said. 

"Trust is something you build, trust is something you create through your own action."

France 'won't trust' Scott Morrison

Also on ABC radio on Friday, was Mr Turnbull, who was the prime minister at the time of the French deal being signed. He was asked by program host Hamish Macdonald whether his successor could be trusted.

"Obviously not, no," Mr Turnbull said.

"Scott Morrison deceived and double crossed the French president. 

"They will never trust Scott Morrison, we just have to hope that in future, they will be able to trust another prime minister but Morrison has deceived them so blatantly and so shamelessly.

"Right now the reputation of Australia has been trashed, and Scott Morrison has done that."

France's Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault will return to Australia after the fallout from the submarine debacle. Source: AP
France's Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault will return to Australia after the fallout from the submarine debacle. Source: AP

We may have a deceitful prime minister, but believe us, we are not a deceitful nation.Malcolm Turnbull

Hamish Macdonald pressed Mr Turnbull about him speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron, who he remains friends with, about the two countries moving forward.

"Why not say to the French president when you're talking to him, 'okay, be hurt for a little bit, but, there's a much bigger picture here and you and Scott Morrison share a view, it would seem, on China and the threat, the challenge it poses to the region?" Macdonald asked.

"Can't you convince the French president to see that?"

"Well, look, the best I can say to Macron and to others in France is this — we may have a deceitful prime minister, but believe us, we are not a deceitful nation," Mr Turnbull responded. 

Repairing the Aust-France relationship

He said the best thing Australia can hope for is that other countries, including France, don't assume Australians and the Australian government "more broadly" is of the "same character" shown throughout this submarine debacle.

This isn't the first time Mr Turnbull has savaged Mr Morrison, following the fallout from the scrapping of the $90 billion deal to acquire conventional submarines from France.

During an address to the National Press Club, Mr Turnbull slammed the PM for his "deceitful conduct", saying the snub will plague international relations for years.

How AustThe French Ambassador stressed serious preparation is needed before Mr Morrison and French president Emmanuel Macron can speak.

"If we see that we can make the necessary progress in order to re-establish trust, to re-establish confidence between our two governments, then we can move forward," he said.

"Let's not be in a situation where one will say, 'I talked to the other and I pretend I said that' and the other will say 'but I didn't hear that'. No, let's prepare seriously."

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