Dig up, prime minister | The Monthly

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Image via ABC News

When the Artful Dodger proved to be Artless

Today Tuesday, November 2, 2021 Dig up, prime minister By Nick Feik Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Image via ABC News Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Image via ABC News Morrison is in a hole, and making things worse In response to the comments that French President Emmanuel Macron aimed at Scott Morrison yesterday (“Do you think he lied to you?” a journalist asked Macron. “I don’t think, I know,” Macron replied), Morrison has proceeded to dig himself in deeper. First the PM’s staff leaked a text message from Macron to the Coalition’s favourite propaganda outlet, The Daily Telegraph, which dutifully ran a story around it. (Funnily enough, the Tele was one of the few mastheads that hadn’t run a major story on the fact that the French president had accused the Australian PM of lying.) The Tele proposed that the text message from Macron (“Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarines ambitions?”) somehow proved that he had been told that Australia was cancelling its submarine contract – and that the Frenchman “just didn’t want to hear it”. It proved nothing of the sort, and there was no evidence to support this contention other than the single text message and the assertions of “sources familiar with talks between the two men”. (Gee, who could they be?)

Not content with the diplomatically disastrous ploy of leaking private messages and backgrounding against foreign leaders to the press, Morrison then took a public shot at Macron, accusing him of attacking Australia’s integrity. What’s more, Morrison added, “I’m not going to cop sledging of Australia, I’m not going to cop that on behalf of Australians.”

To be clear: Macron had not sledged Australians generally. He had sledged Morrison personally. (“I have a lot of respect for your country,” Macron said. “I have a lot of respect – and a lot of friendship – for your people.”)

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