The rush to Paris is well worthwhile:
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took a sly dig at Scott Morrison as he vowed to fix Australia’s relationship with France in the wake of his predecessor’s leaked texts scandal.
Mr Albanese confirmed on ABC’s 7:30 on Thursday night that he would visit French President Emmanuel Macron, promising to strengthen relations after they were soured by the Morrison government’s scrapped submarine deal.
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The former Liberal government canned a $90bn contract to build 12 submarines following advice from the Australian Defence Force, infuriating Mr Macron and prompting the president to declare he had been lied to.
Leaked texts between Mr Macron and Mr Morrison then sought to discredit the French leader’s version of events.
Mr Albanese revealed he would be meeting Mr Macron in a European trip that also includes a NATO summit in Spain.
France has 1.5m citizens in the Pacific and a surprisingly powerful navy to boot. It is essential that Albo brings France back into the democratic protection of the Pacific from China.
Anthony Albanese will urge regional leaders at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum to stand together and guard against coercion and threats to their sovereignty, relying on the Pacific’s tradition of consensus decision-making to hold the line against further Chinese security agreements.
It’s understood the Albanese government believes the Solomon Islands-China security pact is unlikely to be rolled back, and is banking on the collective efforts of Pacific nations to constrain the way it is implemented.
The government was heartened by last month’s rejection by 10 Pacific nations of a proposed security agreement with China, on the grounds the broader region needed to consider it before a decision could be reached.
The parallels between Scott Morrison and Donald Trump are hard to miss. Both led the essential pivot against China. But both also alienated just about every ally they needed in the fight at the same time.
Albo is nicely clearing the slate just as Joe Biden did.
But, be warned, if he does not fix energy then, like Biden, he will be doomed to failure.