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Malcolm Turnbull told to ‘move on’ as commentary causes headaches for Scott Morrison

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Malcolm Turnbull has been urged to retire from public life and spend more time with his grandchildren in a stinging attack on the former prime minister’s running commentary on Scott Morrison’s feud with France.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton did not mince his words when he was asked about his former boss’s repeated interventions in the French submarine contract drama.

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“If I’m being truthful, I think it is sad,” Mr Dutton told the Today show on Friday morning.

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“You see examples in politics, even in media, where some people lose their jobs and they go away, they’re bitter, they’re disaffected.

“Malcolm has a huge amount of money. He’s got beautiful grandkids and a great family – why not move on? I think that would be a better pursuit of, you know, your interests than just being embittered.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Turnbull told reporters on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow that Scott Morrison had a “reputation for telling lies”.

It echoed similar comments from French President Emmanuel Macron who said he “knew” Mr Morrison had deceived him before he severed the $90bn submarine contract with France. Mr Morrison has refuted the claims.

Mr Dutton said Mr Turnbull’s intervention was “nasty and spiteful” and suggested it could have an impact on how he was remembered.

“It is just not a good reflection on them and it diminishes from their own career whether it’s in politics or media as well,” he said.

But Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles said Australia was sick of Mr Morrison’s “difficult relationship with the truth”.

“Malcolm Turnbull knows Scott Morrison the best, but at the end of the day, you know, Scott Morrison does have a very difficult relationship with the truth and our Prime Minister has a character problem,” he told the Today show.

“This is a Prime Minister who just likes going out there and picking a fight and, to be honest, I think Australians are sick of it.”

The French fury over a cancelled submarine deal has led to a major diplomatic fallout. Adam Taylor/PMO
Camera IconThe French fury over a cancelled submarine deal has led to a major diplomatic fallout. Adam Taylor/PMO Credit: Supplied

Later on Sky News, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham would not be drawn on Mr Turnbull’s comments but suggested Australians had had a gutful.

“I think Australians are probably a little thoroughly fed up of former prime ministers and their desires to intervene,” he said.

“I don’t want to to add to commentary around all of that. What matters around the decisions that were made around submarines were that Scott Morrison and our government were taking decisions in the long-term interests of Australia.”

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