Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visits Paris to ‘reset’ Australia’s relationship with France

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will visit French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris next week to formally “reset” diplomatic relations, which were put on hold after the Morrison government signed a massive deal to build 12 submarines. had deleted.

In an interview on ABC’s 7.30, Mr Albanese said that he had been invited to France by Mr Macron and that he expected a warm welcome.

“We have to reset. We have already had very constructive discussions,” the prime minister added.

Earlier this month, the new Labor government announced it agreed to pay French shipbuilder Naval Group $835 million in compensation for the scrapped deal.

A total of $3.4 billion was spent on the program, an amount Mr Albanian called an “extraordinary waste” of taxpayers’ money.

“France, of course, plays a central role in power in Europe, but it is also an important power in the Pacific, including in our own region,” Albanian told Leigh Sales.

“What we can offer is a relationship between our respective leaders that will not be leaked to make an opportunistic headline, one of respect and honesty in the way we treat each other.”

Macron Morrison
Anthony Albanese says relations between Australia and France must be restored after the collapse of the submarine deal.Delivered: The Office of the Prime Minister, Adam Taylor

The submarine deal with France came at a time when Macron spoke of the country’s future as an “Indo-Pacific power” fully committed to the region.

During a visit to Sydney in 2018, the president said the submarines were just “the very beginning” of a closer relationship with Australia that would be developed “over the next 50 years”.

France is considered an important partner in efforts to limit China’s growing power and influence in the Pacific.

Albanians plan to attend NATO summit and also urged to visit Ukraine

Mr. Albanian will be in Europe next week for a more-than-normal NATO summit, where the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be the main item on the agenda.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Canberra, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, hopes the prime minister can use the trip to provide more military aid to his war-torn country.

“We need more heavy weapons,” Myroshnychenko said, adding that he hoped Australia would send more Bushmasters, a Bendigo-built troopship.

A Bushmaster with Ukrainian flags stands in front of a Globemaster plane on the tarmac
Ukraine’s ambassador to Canberra hopes Ukraine can get more military aid.Ministry of Defence: LACW Emma Schwenke

“We have 40 Bushmasters…it would be great to get another 20,” he said.

“I think we’re about to have a young one [Ukrainian] boy named Bushmaster.

“I think it’s coming because Bushmaster is probably Australia’s most recognizable brand name in Ukraine right now because when you mention Australia the next thing you hear is ‘Bushmasters’.”

Mr. Albanian has also been invited to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev. But as is usually the case when traveling near conflict zones, he declined to confirm whether he was taking up the offer.

Man in khaki t-shirt talks to soldiers.
Albanian says he is receiving national security advice about a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Reuters: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service

“We are getting advice from national security on that,” said Mr Albanese.

“We do not want to create a circumstance where Australian staff would be put at risk by making such a visit.

While much of the discussion at NATO will center on the invasion of Russia, some defense and intelligence experts are urging the prime minister to use his trip to remind allies of China’s growing goals for our region.

Albanian raises thumbs up from the tarmac in front of a plane
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is heading to Europe next week for the NATO summit.AAP: Lukas Cocho

“They are trying to push us over and force us into our region that is of immediate strategic importance,” said Paul Dibb, a highly regarded analyst.

Mr Dibb had an extensive career in Australian intelligence and defense and was the lead author of the 1987 Defense White Paper.

“Our Prime Minister, our Foreign Minister and our Defense Minister must remain in the center of their minds, engraved deeply in their minds that their first priority is the defense of this country and to ensure that our immediate region is not dominated by an aggressive expansionist force,” he said.

“That should be their number one priority and it shouldn’t be eroded by being excited, if I may, about Europe and NATO.”

Government puts ‘brake’ on spending in October budget

Facing a number of international and domestic challenges, the new administration has also inherited a budget that is on track to exceed a trillion dollars in debt in a few years.

With inflation and interest rates rising, the prime minister has said some of the things he would like to do in the government’s first budget in October will have to wait.

“We will really have to curb some of the spending that is out there,” said Mr Albanese.

“I’ve made it very clear that there are some things we would like to do that we can’t do with our initial budget.

“We also continue line by line, looking for the waste.”

Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher walk through a courtyard of Parliament House
Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher have said they will go through the budget line by line looking for waste and waste.ABC News: Ian Cutmore

A number of economists predict that the government will have to start a difficult conversation about how the nation pays for the services Australians have come to expect.

“I expect October’s budget to be just about delivering on the promises they made in the election,” said Danielle Wood of the Grattan Institute.

“I think by the time we get into May, those fiscal challenges will really start to bite.”

Labor’s election pledge was not to raise taxes or raise new taxes – except for multinationals – although broader reforms may be needed in the longer term.

“I think tax should be on the agenda,” said Ms Wood.

“That just might argue for changes that the government could make to the next election.”

Watch the interview tonight at 7:30 PM on ABC TV and ABC iview.

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