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Australian leader denies lying, rejects French accusation

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied having ever lied in public life on Friday and said he had the thick skin needed to deal with allegations of dishonesty including from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Asked if he had ever told a lie in public life, Morrison told an interviewer on Melbourne’s 3AW radio: “I don’t believe I have, no, no.”

Macron this month accused the Australian leader of outright lying to him over a multi-billion-dollar submarine contract with Australia, which was scrapped without warning in September.

Macron discovered at the last moment that Australia had secretly negotiated a deal to buy nuclear-powered submarines in talks with the United States and Britain.

“I don’t think. I know,” Macron said when asked by Australian reporters if Scott Morrison was untruthful in their private dealings.

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, a bitter rival from within the same conservative Liberal Party, added to the controversy by saying Morrison had a reputation for lying.

Morrison’s truthfulness has become a major point of debate in Australian politics, and a potential point of weakness as he seeks a second term in elections expected next May.

But Morrison brushed the issue aside: “I have learned in public life over a long period of time to not have a thin skin.”

Morrison said such accusations did not distract him and that he was confident he took the right decision in scrapping the French submarine deal to protect Australia’s national defence.

“I was not intimidated by the fact that that might upset some people and ruffle some feathers,” he said, stressing that the US nuclear submarine technology had not been shared with another nation since 1958.

You can read the transcript of this part of the interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW below:


  • MITCHELL: Prime Minister, we’re talking to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, you ever told a lie in public life?
  • PRIME MINISTER: I don’t believe I have, no.
  • MITCHELL: How does it feel when a former mate, Malcolm Turnbull calls you a serial liar?
  • PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, in politics people take sledges, sadly, all the time, Neil. Anyone in public life…
  • MITCHELL: But he’s a mate, he was a friend and he’s saying you have always been a liar? That must hurt.
  • PRIME MINISTER: Look, Neil, I’ve learnt in public life over a long period of time to not have a thin skin and to not get bitter, to just stay focussed on the job. You’ll get slings and arrows from everywhere. You’ll get, there’ll be politics, you’ll get them from the media, you’ll get them from time to time. And if you haven’t got the thick skin to deal with that, you’re in the wrong job. And it’s not something that distracts me. I tend not to take things personally. I think that’s a good practice if you want to be in public life. Just stay focussed on the job and don’t get distracted by the sledges.
  • MITCHELL: So have you spoken to him?
  • MITCHELL: Don’t want to?
  • MITCHELL: You’ve got a former Prime Minister of Australia, you’ve got the French President both calling you a liar. And it doesn’t worry you? Even politically? I mean, personally…
  • PRIME MINISTER: No, because I’m making the right decisions, Neil. I’m making the decision to protect Australia’s national defence interests, to ensure that we got rid of and didn’t proceed with a contract which wasn’t going to do the right thing for Australia. I wasn’t intimidated by the fact that might upset some people and ruffle some feathers. And I knew it was the right decision for Australia to work with the United States and the United Kingdom to get access to technology that only one other country has received since 1958 and to ensure that Australia had access to that. And so I was prepared to make the decisions that I had no doubt was going to draw some flak and people would disagree with it. And if you don’t have the strength to do that, if you don’t have the strength to deal with the sledges and other things that come your way, well you shouldn’t be in this job. And I certainly, I think, got a pretty good track record of being able to cop what comes and to be able to keep focussed on the job and get things done and stand up for what I think’s right.
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