Ben Fordham has savaged Malcolm Turnbull in a blistering rant after the former Prime Minister criticised Scott Morrison’s submarine deal with the US and UK.
The radio broadcaster accused Mr Turnbull, 66, of being ‘bitter’, ‘unhinged’, ‘cuckoo’ and even acting against Australia’s national interest.
In a withering speech on Wednesday, Mr Turnbull slammed Mr Morrison’s decision to tear up a $90billion deal for 12 French diesel submarines in favour of eight nuclear-powered boats built with help from the US and UK.
Mr Turnbull – who has frequently appeared in the media to criticise the Morrison government since he was ousted in 2018 – called the move ‘deceitful’ and revealed he has spoken to Emmanuel Macron even though the French President won’t take Mr Morrison’s call.
Fordham accused him of harbouring a ‘deep, dark hatred’ of Mr Morrison and suggested he go kayaking to relax during Sydney’s lockdown.
Ben Fordham (pictured with wife Jodie) has savaged Malcolm Turnbull in a blistering rant after the former Prime Minster criticised Scott Morrison’s submarine deal with the US and UK
‘We know that he’s always been bitter since he lost the top job but he appears to be going cuckoo,’ Fordham told his 2GB listeners on Thursday morning.
‘His consistent attacks on the man who replaced him are becoming unhinged.’
Fordham accused Mr Turnbull – who signed the original deal with France in 2016 – of ‘deliberately acting against’ Australia’s national interest by phoning President Macron.
‘He was deliberately trying to damage our relationship with the French even further,’ Fordham claimed.
‘And why would anyone want to back France over America? Do we want to get into bed with a country that has never won a war or do we want to strengthen our bond with our closest ally?’
Fordham accused Mr Turnbull (pictured with wife Lucy) of ‘deliberately acting against’ Australia’s national interest by phoning President Macron
Malcolm Turnbull’s grievances on subs
No cost or timeframe for nuclear boats
Unclear how Australia will maintain subs given it has no nuclear experience
Fears nuclear part of the subs will be built or fitted overseas
Fears world will not trust Australia after ‘backstabbing’ France
Fordham then said Mr Turnbull ‘just can’t get over the fact he was rolled, he misses being Prime Minister.
‘He’s experiencing what young people call FOMO – fear of missing out. Malcolm, we’re all struggling but freedom day is close, hang in there,’ he said in reference to Sydney’s four-month lockdown which ends on October 11.
Fordham pointed out that it was Peter Dutton not Mr Morrison who ousted Mr Turnbull from office.
‘Why the deep and dark hatred of Scott Morrison,’ he asked.
‘We’re now at the point where Mr Turnbull can’t go a day without throwing mud at his old colleagues.
‘He never misses a chance to smear the Liberal Party that made him famous, that made him PM. He’s willing to do anything for revenge.’
Fordham said Mr Turnbull’s speech at the press club was ‘one of the all-time dummy spits.
‘And c’mon Malcolm we know lockdown is tough but there’s 12 days until freedom day.
‘So maybe get out on the kayak go for a walk with Lucy, do something. Get some fresh air. Because this level of hate and frustration and bitterness cannot be good for your health,’ he said.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Turnbull’s office for comment.
In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Turnbull called the move to scrap the sub deal with France deal ‘deceitful’ and said countries around the world will no longer trust Australia.
Emmanuel Macron (pictured) has refused to speak to Scott Morrison since the Prime Minister tore up Australia’s $90billion submarine deal with France
But the French President has spoken to former leader Malcolm Turnbull (pictured on Wednesday) to express his fury, it was revealed
The French government was blindsided and left furious by the move which was announced by Mr Morrison with Joe Biden and Boris Johnson on September 15.
Mr Macron has since refused to take Mr Morrison’s calls – but he has discussed the situation with his ‘friend’ Mr Turnbull, who signed the original deal with France in 2016.
‘I have spoken to Emmanuel Macron. He is a friend and I have stayed in touch with him since I left office. He is one of the great leaders of our times,’ Mr Turnbull said.
The former Prime Minister who led from 2015 to 2018 admitted that Mr Macron was furious.
‘I am not going to quote him but what you have heard from the French government is held – those are views held right across the board,’ he said.
‘There is nobody in France that I am aware of saying this is just another commercial deal, too bad. Not at all.
‘The foreign minister, when he said it was a stab in the back, was not speaking just for himself, there is outrage. What it tells you is that Australia can’t be trusted.’
Mr Morrison (pictured) scrapped a deal to buy 12 French-made submarines in favour of eight nuclear-powered boats in a new deal with the US and UK
Scott Morrison and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June
Mr Turnbull said his government had looked into nuclear submarines, but was advised it could not operate such a fleet without a civil nuclear industry.
The Morrison government says a domestic nuclear industry is not needed to support the submarines, as they come with whole-of-life nuclear power plants which do not need further refuelling.
Former prime minister Paul Keating said new pact with the UK and US – dubbed AUKUS – was a sign of the formation of an ‘anachronistic Anglosphere’ in Asia.
But British high commissioner to Australia Victoria Treadell rejected the assertion.
‘This is not an issue of this Anglosphere and I really do think we have to move away from defining countries like Australia, US and the UK as Anglosphere,’ she told ABC radio.
Last week in New York, Mr Morrison admitted he knew the French would be furious after he tore up the submarine deal.
The French – who were only told the night before the announcement- have reacted with fury, claiming Australia’s move was a ‘stab in the back’.
The US and the UK will help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines. Pictured: the UK’s Astute class submarine HMS Ambush
‘It would be naive to think a decision of this nature was not going to cause disappointment, obviously, to the French,’ he said.
‘We understand that. We totally acknowledge that. And we knew that would be the case.’
Mr Morrison said he could not tell French counterparts any sooner because the highly secure information about the deal with the US and UK would have leaked to the media or to other nations.
‘And at the end of the day, you have to do things that are in Australia’s national interest, and our security interests. And that had to be paramount,’ he said.
Asked if he’d had the chance to speak to President Macron since breaking the news, he said: ‘No, there’s not an opportunity for that at this time.
‘I’m sure that opportunity will come in time.
‘Right now I understand the disappointment and they’re working through the consultations with their ambassador’s return to Paris and we’ll be patient with that.’
Mr Morrison said he told the French many months ago that conventional submarines no longer met Australia’s demands – but they were still blindsided.
‘The world is a jungle,’ ex-ambassador to the US Gerard Araud tweeted on Thursday.
‘France has just been reminded this bitter truth by the way the US and the UK have stabbed her in the back in Australia. C’est la vie.’
China has inflamed tensions in the South China Sea in recent years by expanding its claimed territory (picutred in red), to the objection of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific
The French government later said Australia’s decision to ditch the agreement was ‘contrary to the spirit of cooperation which prevailed’ between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said the change in plan ‘marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret’.
The Prime Minister was joined for the AUKUS announcement by US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a historic joint video-link press conference.
None of the leaders mentioned China by name but the West is increasingly concerned about Beijing’s growing assertiveness and huge military build-up.
Mr Morrison said Australia needed nuclear submarines because they can travel further and evade enemy detection better than conventional submarines.
China has vastly built up its military in the past few years and now possesses six Shang-class nuclear powered attack submarines, equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles. This graphic shows a comparison of the two militaries
Why is Australia building nuclear-powered submarines?
Why nuclear submarines?
Nuclear submarines are powered by nuclear reactors which produce heat that creates high-pressured steam to spin turbines and power the boat’s propeller.
They can run for about 20 years before needing to refuel, meaning food supplies are the only limit on time at sea.
The boats are also very quiet, making it harder for enemies to detect them and can travel at top speed – about 40kmh – for longer than diesel-powered subs.
The first nuclear submarines were put to sea by the United States in the 1950s. They are now also in use by Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, and India.
A senior US defence official told reporters in Washington DC: ‘This will give Australia the capability for their submarines to basically deploy for a longer period, they’re quieter, they’re much more capable.
‘They will allow us to sustain and to improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific.’
Zack Cooper, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, said nuclear submarines would hugely boost Australia’s military capability.
‘They are going to be much, much more capable in the large, expansive ocean that is Australia has to deal with,’ he told the ABC.
Will Australia have nuclear weapons?
Scott Morrison made it clear that the nuclear-power submarines will not have nuclear missiles on board.
Australia has never produced nuclear weapons and signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1973 which prevents non-nuclear states which don’t already have them from developing nuclear weapons.
Mr Morrison also said the Australia has no plans to build nuclear power stations which are widely used around the world.
‘But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,’ he said.
‘And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.’
Are they safe?
The nuclear reactors are shielded from the rest of the submarine in a separate section to protect the crew from dangerous radiation.
The US has an excellent safety record with its nuclear-powered fleet although early Russian subs suffered a few accidents which caused 20 servicemen to die from radiation exposure between 1960 and 1985.
At the end of their 20-year lifetimes, the contaminated parts of nuclear reactors need to be disposed deep underground in special waste storage cells.
Anti-nuclear campaigners say any leaks of radioactive waste could lead to an environmental disaster.
Greens leader Adam Bandt called the submarines ‘floating Chernobyls’ in reference to the 1986 nuclear power plant explosion in the Soviet Union.
Australia needs to replace its six ageing Collins-class submarines.
In 2016 it signed a deal with French Company Naval Group to build 12 diesel-electric attack subs – but the parties were in dispute over the amount of building that would be done in Australia.
That deal has now been torn up in favour of nuclear powered subs aided by the US and UK who will provide the technology to Australia.
The West is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region where it has made huge territorial claims in the South and East China seas, clashed with Indian troops and repeatedly flown planes over Taiwan.
Mr Morrison wants Australia to have serious defence capability to deter China from encroaching in the Pacific and long-range nuclear submarines are just the ticket.
China has vastly built up its military in the past few years and now possesses six Shang-class nuclear powered attack submarines, equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles.