Jim is uniquely valuable to national security, but the Coalition has dumped him

None of Senator Molan's experience in the real world counted when the factions were doing the counting.

30/04/2019 2:14:00 AM

Jim Molan is uniquely valuable to national security, but the Coalition has dumped him, writes Peter Hartcher auspol

None of Senator Molan's experience in the real world counted when the factions were doing the counting.

Very large text sizeImagine you're a political party looking to run the country. You face a tough world where the Chinese Communist Party is advancing and America is retreating. You need a national security strategist with first class military understanding.

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Illustration: Dionne GainCredit:You happen to have one on your backbench. What do you do? Do you make sure to keep him in your ranks? Or do you allow factional hacks to cut deals to look after their mates and force out the qualified expert?If you are the Liberal Party in NSW, you follow plan B and force him out. Jim Molan is a sitting Liberal senator. When he was a serving officer in the Australian Army, the US had such confidence in him that they put him in operational control of 300,000 troops. Of those, half were American soldiers, the rest coalition forces, including Australia's. Not on a parade ground, in a war. The US and Australian governments decorated him for his performance.

Senator Jim Molan ... fighting from within for his political survival.Credit:Alex EllinghausenAdvertisementIt doesn't matter what your view of that war. In my view, the decision by US President George W. Bush to invade Iraq was a terrible choice, one Australia should not have followed. But Major General Jim Molan was a serving soldier and was given a job. He carried it out with great competence as chief of coalition operations for a year in 2004. No Australian since at least World War Two has been entrusted with operational control of so many US forces.

And Molan hasn't only proved effective with big-picture strategy. He has proved himself in the most delicate of military diplomacy. For instance, he was sent to organise the evacuation of 150 UN personnel from East Timor amidst the bloodshed unleashed after that Indonesian province voted for independence in 1999. Marauding militia gangs had murdered in cold blood seven nuns, a priest and a driver the night before in the town of Baucau and the UN decided it needed to get its people out urgently. Molan, in Australian military uniform and armed only with radios, stood alone on an airstrip at Baucau coordinating the evacuation by Australian Air Force Hercules and choppers. The militia were in control of the airport, armed and present.

Molan, an Indonesia specialist who still speaks the language, negotiated with the militia the safe evacuation first of the UN contingent's children, then the adults. He also managed to negotiate to save the life of Bishop Carlos Belo, an East Timorese Nobel peace laureate who had opposed Indonesia's colonisation of East Timor. He was a special target of the Indonesian-sponsored militia. Molan got him out safely.

The Abbott government called on Molan to help figure out how to deliver its much-ballyhooed policy to "stop the boats" of asylum seekers. The new government had a promise but no strategy to fulfil it. Molan worked with the then immigration minister, Scott Morrison, to develop the plan that became known as Operation Sovereign Borders. It was so successful that Labor eventually adopted all its main elements, and it is now the bipartisan position of the country to maintain it.

LoadingSince then, Molan has taken up the cause of trying to develop a stockpile of liquid fuel for Australia. Believe it or not, Australia has no stockpile - only about 21 days of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel in operations the pipeline. "We haven't needed it til now while the US was able to maintain sea lines of communication" to keep fuel imports flowing. "The US is no longer able to" in the event of a crisis, says Molan. "We have a vulnerability a mile high." The government commissioned him to write a report on the problem and possible solutions.

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But none of this experience in the real world counted when the factions were doing the counting. The Coalition has listed Molan as No. 4 on its NSW Senate ballot paper for the May 18 federal election. In the usual run of things, that position is unwinnable. In effect, Molan was dumped.

LoadingWhy was he listed so far down the ticket? Because he is a member of the wrong faction. He's in the conservative group. In the NSW division of the Liberal party, the moderates are dominant. Two of the moderates' factional favourites - neither one of them a sitting MP or a particularly distinguished citizen - have been put into the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. The Nationals get to nominate No. 3 and Molan gets No. 4. Bye bye, Jim!

Except that Molan and his admirers aren't giving up. Voters don't have to mindlessly follow the party's list. If they look down the list of names in the "Liberals and Nationals" column, voters can see his name and write the number one in front of it. He needs at least 150,000 people to do so to have a chance of getting back into the Senate. That's a big ask. He has a band of supporters promoting his name but they're working at cross-purposes to the party machine.

But if he misses out on re-election, couldn't the Coalition find another expert strategist to help them devise policy, either in government or opposition? There is no one even close. If the outgoing Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne, or the current Foreign Affairs Minister and former Defence Minister Marise Payne had any interest in strategy they might have devised one already. They have not. Australia has no current national security strategy.

Jim Molan in uniform.Credit:The Age"People ask me, what's the most important thing for the Australian Defence Forces - subs or planes or tanks? And I say, it's none of those things. It's a national security strategy," Molan says.

The Liberals do have another former military officer in their ranks, Andrew Hastie, a well-regarded former captain of special forces, in the WA seat of Canning. Molan calls him "a superb young soldier", but he is relatively new to government and to international strategy.

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There are no other Molans on hand. He says he's "putting my faith in democracy". That's his other cause. He has been leading the campaign inside the Liberal Party for internal democracy, for the members to choose the party's candidates, not the faction chiefs.

The Liberals in NSW have decided that a senator uniquely valuable to the Coalition's national security task is of no use. And that a senator committed to party democracy is an outright threat. And then the political class will express surprise that the Australian people are disenchanted with it.

Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald »

He’s got my first vote below the line! PeterHartcherAO JimMolan Australian fuel security review ignores peak oil in China 2015 All this experience and he calls the Greens evil? Really about to give up reading the SMH. My family seriously considering ending our subscription. Please stop publishing 💩 about Australia needing RWNJs in our parliaments.

Unfortunately being pro marriage equality and pro republic disqualifies one from preselection for the Libs. So much for the broad church. Surely not PH? He is no Monash. Self serving member of broad church. Just loves the Citadel seat. That simple. National security like keeping us safe from all Iraq’s oil...I mean WMDs

Factions a problem within NSW: Jim Molan | Sky News AustraliaFULL INTERVIEW: Senator Jim Molan says his relegation to an unwinnable position on the NSW Coalition senate ticket is a 'symptom' of what is wrong within the Liberal Party.\n\nSenator Molan is almost certainly not going to be re-elected after he was placed fourth on the NSW Coalition senate ticket, behind Liberals Hollie Hughes and Andrew Bragg and a Nationals candidate.\n\nSpeaking with the Sky News Outsiders program, Senator Molan says the party will struggle to maintain credibility with voters if factional bosses 'have more say' than rank-and-file Liberal Party members.\n\nThe NSW Senator vowed to use 'all options available' to stay in parliament, short of leaving the Liberal Party. JimMolan We will vote LNP out like your own party did to you Jim! JimMolan Even the liberal party does not want Jim Molan why the fuck would we JimMolan You're cooked gramps I can't wait

Liberal senator Jim Molan tells voters to ignore party's voting instructionsSenator Jim Molan is encouraging voters to ignore the Liberal Party's voting instructions in a desperate bid to save his seat after being relegated to an unwinnable position on the Liberal Senate ticket No thank you. Hes a horrible person. At pre-polling today, Jim Molan, I DID ignore the LNP's voting instructions. Not in a way you'd like, but they were DEFINITELY ignored ... !

Social media platforms are no place to conduct work disputesSettling disputes or grievances on social media should be a last resort, write Jim Bright. Definitely

Social media platforms are no place to conduct work disputesSettling disputes or grievances on social media should be a last resort, write Jim Bright. Yeah! Just let us nobody’s argue with each other . Thanx😘 That's a fuckin awful idea.

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Greens candidate filmed smashing Scott Morrison pinataA Greens candidate has refused to apologise after vision emerged of him smashing a likeness of Scott Morrison’s head with a bat. Disgusting virgotweet Comapred to LNP senate candidate who doean't believe in early childhood and wants a flat 12% tax rate? What I love the most is that .newscorpaus haven't realised that people under 60 are not listening to newscorpse anymore. Goodbye. auspol Awesome! Where can I get one?

Fraser Anning will be preferenced last: Cormann | Sky News AustraliaMathias Cormann has confirmed far-right Senator Fraser Anning’s Party will be preferenced last in almost all seats across the country. \n\nMr Cormann told Sky News Mr Anning’s party would be preferenced last except in a very small number of seats including where white supremacist Jim Saleam is running, who he says is ‘an even worse candidate with an even more atrocious record’. \n\nThe Finance Minister also said the Liberal Party would be preferencing One Nation behind Labor in all Liberal-held seats, which he says ‘is a matter of public record’. \n \nImage: News Corp Australia \n\n\n\n MathiasCormann By the looks of things he will have a lot of preference votes to hand someone then. MathiasCormann Not by the “ pissed off “ Conservatives Mathias , he will bu NUMBER 1 ! Sorry ! MathiasCormann Got a feeling the major parties are going to be in for a big shock.

The Sri Lankan attacks are uniquely senselessThe Sri Lankan case is different because it imports foreign ideology even to the extent of picking a target that makes no local sense at all. Thanks Waleed, it was important that you condemned these attacks as well. I agree, all of these terrorist attacks are senseless. It does not mighty if they are against Christians or Muslims or any religion or race they are senseless. Thus by extension Islam is uniquely senseless as history shows violent terrorism attacks are the long used and preferred tactic of choice of this anachronistic ideology! Didn’t these people attended university in Australia?

Factions a problem within NSW: Jim Molan | Sky News AustraliaFULL INTERVIEW: Senator Jim Molan says his relegation to an unwinnable position on the NSW Coalition senate ticket is a 'symptom' of what is wrong within the Liberal Party.\n\nSenator Molan is almost certainly not going to be re-elected after he was placed fourth on the NSW Coalition senate ticket, behind Liberals Hollie Hughes and Andrew Bragg and a Nationals candidate.\n\nSpeaking with the Sky News Outsiders program, Senator Molan says the party will struggle to maintain credibility with voters if factional bosses 'have more say' than rank-and-file Liberal Party members.\n\nThe NSW Senator vowed to use 'all options available' to stay in parliament, short of leaving the Liberal Party. JimMolan We will vote LNP out like your own party did to you Jim! JimMolan Even the liberal party does not want Jim Molan why the fuck would we JimMolan You're cooked gramps I can't wait

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Coalition vows $10 million top-up for North Sydney Olympic Pool revampNorth Sydney Council has warned the ageing harbourside pool faces closure unless it gets $60 million worth of upgrades. MeganGorrey What is with the LNP and water. Just run a hose in the pool from next door and it will cost about $120 for the water and $30 bucks for the hose. caymancosts MeganGorrey $60 million my arse MeganGorrey Why