I have been in politics for a while but until last week I hadn't heard of the rule that a nation's leader must tell other world leaders everything they are doing.
Or at least The Prime Minister was strongly criticised last week by the Labor Party for not telling the French President, Emmanuel Macron, that Australia had been negotiating to buy nuclear submarines from the British and US Governments. Anthony Albanese accused Scott Morrisson of "gaslighting" the French and Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, accused the PM of "vandalism".
Is this the new standard that Australian Prime Ministers must follow? I hope not because I expect our Prime Minister, whether Liberal or Labor, to stand up for Australia's interests, not the French people's interests or anyone else interests.
And when you are standing up for your interests you do not always disclose everything to everyone. That is not being dishonest, it is just being hard headed about the basic realities of the world.
Most of us have not had to negotiate arms deals with world leaders but most of us probably have negotiated to buy a house. Ask yourself, when in these negotiations, do you tell the agent the maximum price you are willing to pay? Of course not, you have to negotiate for your best interests. You should not lie but you do not need to disclose every detail of your strategy.
There is a direct parallel with relations between countries. We have friendly relations with France but we are under no obligation to tell them about our relations with other countries. That is a matter for us and I would not expect France to disclose all of their dealings with other countries either.
Perhaps the Labor party are just taking France's side to embarrass the PM ahead of the looming Federal election. However, there is the possibility that it is another example of the Labor party not being able to compute the hard realities of life.
Let's say that a Labor Prime Minister had told the French Government that we were looking at buying nuclear submarines from the US and the UK. What would have happened? Well, people respond to incentives and almost certainly the French would have leaked this information to the press and that possibly would have scuttled the whole deal. That would have benefited the French because it may have saved the diesel submarine contract for them.
What was remarkable about the nuclear submarines deal was that it remained a secret right up until the announcement. Hundreds of officials in three countries knew about it but the secrecy was key to the settlement of the deal. Without that we probably would not be joining the six other countries in the world that have nuclear submarines.
The common opinion in the mainstream media is that Scott Morrison was embarrassed on the world stage because of the French President's scorn. David Crowe from the Sydney Morning Herald called it "the worst trip overseas for an Australian prime minister in living memory".
In talking to average Australians though they back Australia over France. The trip was a proud moment for an Australian leader who has stood for Australian interests. Whatever side of politics our Prime Minister is from, that is what we expect from our leaders.