After securing the so-called “contract of the century”, the French company chosen to build Australia’s future submarines has conceded it’s having cultural clashes with its $50 billion customer, with lunch and meeting times proving problematic.

Key points:

  • The ABC has been told of numerous frustrations between French and Australian officials working on the contract
  • One official said Australians needed to understand the sanctity of the lunch break — not just a sandwich snatched at the screen
  • The French Naval Group is developing “intercultural courses” for French staff being posted to Australia

In 2016, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced French company Naval Group, then known as DCNS, had been awarded the lucrative contract, beating rival bids from Germany’s TKMS and the Japanese Government.

Since that time the ABC has been told of numerous difficulties and frustrations between French and Australian officials, although a long-awaited strategic partnering agreement was finally signed earlier this year.

In a series of candid interviews with the defence industry publication SLDInfo.com, Naval Group officials have now offered insights into the problems the French company is facing in dealing with Australia.

“Not everyone thinks like the French,” explained Jean-Michel Billig, Naval Group’s program director for the project to build 12 new “attack class” submarines.

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