The remarkable diplomatic mess that has become Scott Morrison in Glasgow - Women's Agenda

The remarkable diplomatic mess that has become Scott Morrison in Glasgow

Australians know Scott Morrison doesn't do apologies. The French are now learning.

Australians know their Prime Minister doesn’t like apologies.

We also know he’s not always a huge fan of the truth.

And now both of those shortcomings in his leadership are on display on the world stage internationally, with his diplomatic incompetence becoming somewhat of a sideshow at COP26 in Glasgow, where he has reluctantly arrived to take part in the global climate talks.

This time, the diplomatic disaster comes in response to French President Emmanuel Macron, who told reporters in Rome at the G20 Summit over the weekend that “I don’t think, I know” that Morrison had lied to him over the AUKUS submarine deal, that a $90 billion contract with France ripped up overnight.

Morrison responded to reporters at Glasgow overnight that he wasn’t going to accept “sledging of Australia” by Macron. “I can deal with that. But those slurs, I’m not going to cop sledging at Australia. I’m not going to cop that on behalf of Australians,” he said during a press conference.

Just one problem. Macron never sledged the country – actually he noted the shared values both Australia and France have. Macron’s comments were clearly levelled at the Prime Minister. r

Morrison went on to tell reporters today that he discussed “candidly” back in June with Macron – and made it “very clear” – that Australia’s strategic requirements would not be met by conventional diesel-powered submarines.

But that doesn’t seem to be the full story.

US President Joe Biden, who has been repairing relations with France following the AUKUS announcement, said the submarines matter was handled in a “clumsy” way by Australia.

“It was not done with a lot of grace. I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn’t happened,” he told reporters.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through. I, honest to God, did not know you had not been.”

French Australian relations appear to have hit a new low, so what can we expect from the Prime Minister?

To wait it out.

“It’s clear from President Macron’s statements yesterday that the level of offence is still very great and we will wait for that to subside,” Morrison told reporters.

Morrison could always make the first move and apologise.

But then that would take someone capable of apologising. A difficult ask for Morrison, even with the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on empathy consultants back in 2019.  

He never apologised to Christine Holgate, for effectively firing her on the floor of Parliament, having never picked up the phone to her to discuss the issue at hand.

He never apologised to protesters for saying they should be grateful they were not “met with bullets”, rather he merely stopped short and conceded he “acknowledged” the statement may have come off as offensive.

He’s also never – and is unlikely to ever – apologise for glorifying a lump of coal in Parliament, for putting Australia last of a United Nations report card on countries taking action against climate change. And for playing every avoidance strategy possible to put off committing Australia to a net-zero emissions target, before handing a blank check to the Nationals in order to get their support.

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