PM defends AUKUS deal after lying claims

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Scott Morrison has been forced to defend his handling of the AUKUS submarine deal after the prime minister claimed he had never lied while in public office.

The prime minister made the claim while on Melbourne radio on Friday after he was asked about the government's decision to scrap a $90 billion submarine deal with France in favour of nuclear-powered vessels.

"It's what I believe to be true," Mr Morrison later told reporters in Melbourne.

French President Emmanuel Macron and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had publicly accused Mr Morrison of lying about the deal.

The prime minister said he understood why the French were angered by the decision, but said the previous deal had to be scrapped.

"I am prepared to make those decisions, and if they are upset with me, I understand," Mr Morrison said.

"But I'm not going to have Australia's best interests intimidated by people who might be a bit upset with me over things like that."

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce defended Mr Morrison, saying he was reflecting on Mr Macron's accusation and it was a "fair statement".

When asked if he had lied in public life, Mr Joyce said he probably had.

"If you ask me a personal question about my life, I don't have to give you a straight answer," he said.

"If you ask me something that's none of your business, I'm going to tell you what you want to hear to get out of my face."

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he stood by his own record of integrity in public life, when quizzed on whether he had lied.

"Scott Morrison is someone who himself doesn't have regard for his own words of yesterday. And therefore, Australians should not trust what he says today," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"That's why this prime minister isn't trusted here in Australia either, because it's his own words that he walks away from as soon as he says them because he thinks that it doesn't matter."

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