Condolences – Molan, Senator Andrew James (Jim), AO, DSC, February 6, 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (12:34): Firstly I’d like to acknowledge Senator Molan’s family in the gallery. Senator Molan was a great Australian. His passing has robbed Australia of a true statesman. His contribution to public life will be missed.

Senator Molan loved his country, and he dedicated himself to the service of his country every single day. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he sought to defend our nation, and he never shied away from a fight. He served Australia for four decades in the Army, where he distinguished himself in various conflicts around the world and rose to the rank of major general, as we all know. His sound judgement led to a senior appointment running the multinational task force in Iraq, yet when he retired from the Army, he didn’t rest on his laurels. He threw himself into the defence of Australia once again, this time helping to design Operation Sovereign Borders to protect our country from the uncontrolled flow of unauthorised arrivals, which threatened the integrity of our orderly and humanitarian refugee program. Despite all the naysayers who said it couldn’t be done, the program was a resounding success—so much so that other nations have sought to copy us.

Even then Jim was not prepared to sit back and enjoy his well-earned retirement. Instead, he entered the civilian battlefield of politics, winning a seat in the Senate for the Liberals in New South Wales. He used his position to tackle the greatest threat facing Australia. He wasn’t afraid to point out that that threat was not climate change; that threat was the global ambition of a rising China. In his last book, Danger on OuDoorstep, which I’m proud to say I do own and I have read, Jim warned that war with China was not only possible but it was much more likely than people might realise sitting at home.

As Jim said, Australia is large enough. We are rich enough to defend ourselves. We just have to understand the vital importance of the old saying, ‘If you want peace, you must prepare for war’ and, as he put it himself: ‘We don’t have 75 years to muck around with a Gucci military designed to send small token forces to be part of the US force with the aim of showing the flag. We have to deter China by being capable of winning an armed conflict. We need nuclear powered submarines not in a couple of decades but as soon as possible. Under our current procurement strategy, they will arrive too late to solve our most urgent problem, which is: how do we defend ourselves now, particularly if the US was unable to come to our aid? We need to strengthen our military, we need to become more economically resilient and we need to be psychologically battle-ready. Instead of dividing our nation along racial lines, which some have sought to do, and looking backwards with shame or anger, we need to unite as a people proud of our achievements, forward-looking and, most importantly, ready to defend our country.’

Senator Molan was a rare man in this day and age: a man who insisted that facts, however unpleasant, must direct our thinking. He insisted that reality rather than ideology should inform our perspective and, as a result, his plain thinking and clear-sighted vision provided an invaluable resource to our nation. The best way, I think, to honour Senator Molan’s life and work is to take up the baton of properly preparing Australia for a war with China that none of us want to fight but which we can only deter by being prepared to fight and to win. Our nation has lost a great patriot and a fearless warrior. May he rest in peace and may his legacy live on and inspire us all to do better and to defend our nation.