Cashing out: French submarines drama settled

By Patricia Meunier

Champagne corks are popping after France and Australia found a way to repair their friendship after their relationship was fractured over the cancelled multi-billion dollar submarines contract.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that the Australian government will pay French shipbuilder Naval Group $835 million in compensation, after last year’s decision to dump a $90-billion contract to build 12 submarines.

The cancellation of the contract with the French company was a result of Australia entering the AUKUS security alliance with the United States and United Kingdom last September, which will give the country access to nuclear submarine technology.

The new Prime Minister has said the total amount spent on the submarines program is now $3.4 billion for taxpayers.

When it occurred, the incident caused a massive fracture in diplomatic relations between the two countries. Things went quite far. The French President Emmanuel Macron accused then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying in an interview and called back his ambassador in Canberra.

After this agreement, Mr Albanese is planning to visit President Macron in France and rebuild the relationship. France is an important partner for Australia as New Caledonia is still French and it is one of the largest neighbours of Australia. And one of the closest too.

Meanwhile, Australian defence companies affected by the dumping of the program are still seeking support from their government. Many small local actors had been heavily affected by the situation.

They need to know what is going to happen because their financial situation is desperate following the brutal cancellation of the project.

Feature image: The British Astute class is emerging as an early favourite to replace the Collins-class fleet. Photo: Defence Images/CC/Flickr

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