Turnbull savages Morrison over 'humiliating' move: 'Can't be trusted'

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Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has savaged current leader Scott Morrison in a scathing address to the National Press Club.

On Wednesday, Mr Turnbull criticised his successor for the handling of the French submarine deal which was recently scrapped. 

"What Morrison has done, and he can can blabber and people can spin it as much as they like but this was a big double cross, deceitful conduct on any view, acting in bad faith," the former PM said. 

"That is a real problem for us."

While pointing out Australia cancelling the contract with France led to a diplomatic crisis, Mr Turnbull said the French feel they have been "deceived and humiliated".

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pictured addressing the National Press Club. Source: AAP
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed his successor Scott Morrison over the scrapped French submarine deal. Source: AAP

"Scott Morrison deliberately and elaborately set out to persuade the French that their deal was on foot and proceeding, until he knew he had an alternative deal whereupon he dumped the French and his deceitful conduct was exposed," Mr Turnbull said.

He said if Mr Morrison had been upfront with President Emmanuel Macron and said Australia wanted to look at potentially acquiring nuclear submarines, his French counterpart would have been "supportive".

In 2016, Mr Turnbull secured the $90 billion deal to acquire conventional submarines from France and he says the snub will plague international relations for years.

"This betrayal of trust will dog our relations with Europe for years," Mr Turnbull said. 

"The Australian Government has treated the French Republic with contempt. It won't be forgotten. Every time we seek to persuade another nation to trust us, somebody will be saying remember what they did to Macron."

Malcolm Turnbull says the scrapping of the French submarine deal was clumsy, deceitful and costly. Source: AP
Malcolm Turnbull says the scrapping of the French submarine deal was clumsy, deceitful and costly. Source: AP

Turnbull not going to be lectured on patriotism from PM

Mr Turnbull said statements about the French being "stabbed in the back" were widely held throughout the government.

"What it tells you is that Australia can't be trusted," the former prime minister said.

"When you conduct yourself in such a deceitful manner internationally, it has a real impact on Australia."

The former prime minister said Australia was walking into the most potentially dangerous form of propulsion without civil or naval nuclear expertise.

"The fact that there was no discussion and this extraordinary deceit that was practised, it has left us with so many unresolved questions."

He said anyone — including Labor — who questioned the decision were accused of being unpatriotic.

"I am not getting any lectures on patriotism from Scott Morrison," Mr Turnbull said.

Turnbull slams vaccine rollout

Mr Turnbull also slammed the vaccine rollout in Australia and said the failure to have enough jabs is the reason parts of the country are still in lockdown.

"The reason we are in lockdown is because the Federal Government did not buy enough vaccines last year," he said.

"There is no argument about that, it is the biggest failure of public administration I have ever witnessed."

He also said not supplying Indigenous communities with enough vaccines was another "failure".

"They were obviously and well known to be among the most vulnerable populations. They should have been provided with vaccines at the earliest possible opportunity, as a matter of priority," he said. 

"It is extraordinary that you have vulnerable communities that are actually lagging behind the mainstream of the community."

On Twitter, people said Mr Turnbull "obliterated" Mr Morrison in the address.

French president 'ready' to meet Morrison

French President Emmanuel Macron would be ready to speak with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison if the talks were "prepared in a serious manner," an official says.

European countries must boost their defence plans and make themselves "respected," Macron said on Tuesday as his country opened talks with the United States following a submarine contract dispute that led to ambassadors being recalled.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will speak with Scott Morrison. Source: EPA
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will speak with Scott Morrison. Source: EPA

"Europeans must come out of their naivety," Mr Macron said during a news conference in Paris, where he spoke publicly for the first time about the AUKUS defence deal between the UK, US and Australia that sank a multi-billion dollar French contract.

"When we are under pressure,... showing that we also have power and the capacity to defend ourselves... is simply making ourselves be respected".

Mr Turnbull confirmed today he has already been in contact with Mr Macron.

With AAP

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