Make no mistake. The apparent diplomatic debacle of the Franco/Australian submarine deal, did not erupt out of the deep oceanic blue.
Look a little a closer and it is obvious this tectonic rupture in international trade is BREXIT writ large. And it bears the fingerprints of London-born former Australian prime minister Anthony John (Tony) Abbott, an unpaid adviser to Britain’s Board of Trade.
In this role, Abbott is tasked with “promoting the UK’s trade interests across the globe.” When this disgraceful appointment was announced, Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said it was, “pretty extraordinary” for a former Australian Prime Minister to be promoting the trade agenda of another country. “It’s up to the Government to explain whether Tony Abbott, for example, is regarded as an agent of foreign influence under their rules,” Bowen said. Given the Morrison Government’s obsession with secrecy, we will never know if Abbott supplied ultra-sensitive information about the submarine agreement to Boris Johnson’s BREXT-loving Tories.
Given the Morrison Government’s obsession with secrecy, we will never know if Abbott supplied ultra-sensitive information about the submarine agreement to Boris Johnson’s BREXT-loving Tories.
It is unsurprising that at the time of the appointment in September 2020, Abbott won the approval of the now disgraced former Attorney General Christian Porter.
Porter congratulated Abbott, saying he wished him “every success” in securing a trade deal between the UK and Australia.
With breathtaking understatement Porter also said, “Mr Abbott will no doubt be aware of the routine requirements for former cabinet ministers under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.”
In his chequered career Abbott managed to spend a bob each way on BREXIT. In October 2016 the SMH reporter Michael Koziol penned an item about ($) Abbott’s backflip in support of Britain’s rupture with Europe A few years later in August 2020, Malcolm Farr wrote a withering portrait of Abbott for The Guardian. Farr, an astute political journalist, said among other things, that Abbott’s new position as a British Trade Envoy “is not quite treason, but certainly a further sign he has London written on his heart”.
At the same time Abbott joined the Board of Trade, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson elevated BREXIT stalwart and ultra-conservative, Daniel Hannan, as a key adviser to the Board.
For his exemplary work for the conservative cause, especially BREXIT, Hannan became Baron Hannan of Kingsclere in the County of Hampshire on Monday January 25, 2021
I would not be at all surprised if Tony Abbott is similarly rewarded after Scott Morrison, Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, put ink to the deal to build nuclear powered submarines.
I am no expert on submarine construction, but it is safe to surmise, French jobs associated with the contract between Australia and Naval Group, which is majority owned by the French government, will go to British workers.
After all, jobs are the ultimate aim of any Board of Trade, and in this instance Hannan, an Ulster Catholic, will no doubt offer fellow Catholic Tony Abbott, a firm, manly handshake for pinching jobs off those toffy frogs.
I might be wrong, but Australia can forget any trade deal with the European Union for the foreseeable future. And Aussies can also forget a warm welcome for ANZAC memorials in the French towns of Fromelles and Pozières.
I daresay once borders open in the post COVID-19 world, Australian tourists will be given short shrift by French immigration officials, especially in the Pacific.
On a strictly political note, if Australia does change the government, and if the ALP manages to establish a Federal ICAC, I sincerely hope it investigates the role of Tony Abbott, and the entire Liberal Party clique, ensconced in Australia House London, over the biggest foreign affairs calamity of the 21st Century.
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