Scott Morrison right to put Australia’s defences first

Scott Morrison right to put Australia’s defences first. By Andrew Hastie, Assistant Minister for Defence.

The truth is that the French conventionally powered submarines were no longer fit for Australia’s needs in the years ahead.

Our national security must take priority over the emotions of close friends and allies. The reaction from President Emmanuel Macron, who is campaigning for his own re-election in France, is a small price to pay for world-class nuclear submarines.

Besides, Scott Morrison is not the first Australian leader to face an upset ally at a summit of world leaders. Billy Hughes set the precedent at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, when he verbally sparred with US president Woodrow Wilson over Australia’s claim to German New Guinea and its chain of islands. Wilson threw his weight around and reminded ­Hughes Australia was only a small nation of several million people. Hughes, quick on his feet like a boxer, counterpunched: “I speak for 60,000 dead. How many do you speak for?”

It was a powerful retort, as many of our fallen lay buried nearby in the fields of France. Wilson later spoke of Hughes privately as a “pestiferous varmint”. …

Which brings us back to AUKUS. This is the biggest development to our national security since the signing of the ANZUS Treaty 70 years ago. The nuclear submarines will be crucial to Australian naval power in the 21st century, maintaining stability across the region and keeping us secure. But AUKUS is much bigger than just submarines and will stretch across society. …

We also need to engage children in primary and secondary schools. To make them aware of the opportunities ahead, and to grow their minds and hearts so they can continue the work of AUKUS, long after many of us are gone. This is truly an inter-generational endeavour and we must plan like stewards accordingly.


Ditching the French deal was both legal (there are many outs in the contract) and moral (the French misled us and were delivering less than promised at a much higher price).

Macron, of course, is very annoyed that the US and UK partnered in such a significant deal with Australia, rather than with France. Macron dare not criticize the US and UK too directly. But, like China, France considers Australia a proxy in many respects for the US and UK. They feel free to criticize and harm Australia because they think we’re too small and too far away.

Ah the French, always there when they need you. Those 60,000 whom Hughes mentioned above are mostly in graves in France.