Mr Thébault’s speech to the National Press Club had been stalled for several weeks but came as relations between Canberra and Paris sank to new lows. Mr Morrison attacked Mr Macron on Tuesday for insulting all Australians after the president accused him of lying about plans to scuttle the submarine deal.
An exchange of text between the two leaders, in which Mr. Macron asked whether he should expect good or bad news on the submarine project two days before its cancellation, was cited as evidence that the France was warned that the deal was on shaky ground.
Mr Thébault said the leaked text messages had further damaged bilateral relations.
“This is an unprecedented new low in terms of how to do it and also in terms of truth and trust,” he said.
“You don’t behave like that in the personal exchanges of leaders who are allies.
“Doing so also sends a very worrying signal to all heads of state. Be careful, in Australia there will be leaks. And what you confidently say to your partners will eventually be used and militarized against you one day. “
Mr. Thébault was particularly fierce towards Foreign Ministers Marise Payne and Defense Ministers Peter Dutton for organizing a meeting with their French counterparts on August 30 – two weeks before the AUKUS announcement – with the joint statement highlighting the importance of the submarine project.
He said the Australia-France submarine contract was “not about a commodity” but a solemn agreement for Paris to share top-secret technology with a like-minded nation and a Pacific neighbor.
Amid the risk posed by China, Thébault said Australia was now considering a 20-year capacity gap and that several French-designed submarines would have been delivered by the time Australia gets its first ships to nuclear propulsion. He said Australian officials had never mentioned the acquisition of French nuclear technology.
“Magical thinking will not change the facts,” he said.
Asked about the delay in EU FTA negotiations, Thébault said Australia’s deceptive treatment of France had “a strong resonance” among members.
He said climate change could be an area of cooperation to deepen bilateral ties, but Australia needed to raise its 2030 emissions target beyond its planned 30-35% reduction. A 45% reduction would be proof that Australia is “doing its job,” he said.
“Let us be frank: there will be no negotiation where the EU will agree to remove this substantial element. Others could do it, but not the EU.
Mr Thébault said France will negotiate hard for compensation as Australian operations of its state-owned shipbuilder Naval Group are liquidated, saying it will defend the interests of French and Australian companies left behind.