Jim Molan

Last updated

1972) [1]
Jim Molan
Senator for New South Wales
In office
14 November 2019 16 January 2023
Children4, including Erin
Alma mater
  • Army officer
  • politician
Military service
Branch/service Australian Army
Years of service1968–2008
RankMajor general

Major General Andrew James Molan, AO , DSC (11 April 1950 – 16 January 2023) was an Australian politician and a senior officer in the Australian Army. [2] He was a senator for New South Wales from December 2017 to June 2019 and from November 2019 until his death in January 2023, representing the Liberal Party.


During his military career, Molan commanded the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, the 1st Brigade, the 1st Division and its Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, and the Australian Defence College. In April 2004, he was deployed to Iraq for a year to serve as chief of operations of the new headquarters for the Multinational Force in Iraq. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, as well as the Legion of Merit by the United States government. He retired from the Australian Army in 2008, and later that year released his first book, Running the War in Iraq.

Following his retirement from the Australian Army, Molan was appointed by the Abbott government as a special envoy for Operation Sovereign Borders and was subsequently credited with being an architect of the coalition's Stop the Boats Australian border protection and asylum-seeker policies. [3] [4] In 2016, Molan unsuccessfully stood as a Liberal Party candidate for the Senate in New South Wales at the 2016 federal election. [5] [4] [6] In December 2017, during the parliamentary eligibility crisis, the High Court declared him elected in place of Fiona Nash, who was ineligible to stand. [7] He was not re-elected to the Senate in the 2019 federal election.

On 10 November 2019, Molan was selected by the NSW Liberal Party to fill the casual vacancy left by the resignation of Senator Arthur Sinodinos. He was appointed by a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament on 14 November 2019. [8] At the 2022 election, he was re-elected to a six-year term that was supposed to expire 30 June 2028. He died less than a year into his new term.

Early life and education

Molan joined the Australian Army following completion of his schooling in Victoria. On graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1971, [9] he was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. [10] He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Queensland. [11] He was a graduate of the Australian defence force's School of Languages where he studied Indonesian. [10] He maintained an interest in aviation and held civil commercial licences and instrument ratings for fixed and rotary wing aircraft. [12] He was also a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD) and was accredited as a master project director (MPD). [11]

Military career

Molan had a long and active military career. Regimental postings included the 1st Battalion, Pacific Islands Regiment (Papua New Guinea) as a rifle platoon commander; 9th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment, as adjutant; rifle company second-in-command and rifle company commander in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; commanding officer of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; commander of the Army's mechanised 1st Brigade; and commander of the 1st Division and its Deployable Joint Force Headquarters. [13] [14] Molan was the commander of the Australian Defence College, including the Australian Defence Force Academy; the Australian Command and Staff College; and the Australian Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. [15]

Molan served as the army attache in Jakarta as a colonel between 1992 and 1994 and for this service he was awarded the Indonesian decoration Bintang Dharma Yudha Nararya in 1995. Between 1998 and 1999, Molan was the defence attache in Jakarta as a brigadier and served in East Timor. [9] On 25 March 2000 he was upgraded to an Officer of the Order of Australia for his service in Indonesia and in East Timor. [16]

In April 2004, he was deployed for a year to Iraq. He was despatched to serve as the chief of operations of the new Multinational Force in Iraq headquarters that was being planned. However, he initially instead spent some time trying to find a specific role within the headquarters structure, before being allocated responsibility for energy security. [17] He was eventually made deputy chief of staff for operations, and served during continuous and intense combat operations. For distinguished command and leadership in this period, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and the American Legion of Merit. [18] [19] Molan has been accused of responsibility for planning and carrying out multiple purported war crimes during the attack on Fallujah in late 2004. [20]

After returning from Iraq he served as defence materiel advocate for the Defence Materiel Organisation; and adviser to the Vice Chief of the Defence Force on Joint Warfighting Lessons and Concepts. [21] Major General Molan retired in July 2008. [22]


In August 2008 Molan released his first book, Running the War in Iraq. [23] The book concentrated on his experience as chief of operations in Iraq during 2004–05, and contained some criticism about Australia's capacity to engage in military conflict. [24] In an August 2008 speech, Molan stated that: "Our military competence was far worse than even we thought before East Timor, and people may not realise that the military performance bar has been raised by the nature of current conflict, as illustrated in Iraq and Afghanistan". [25] Writing in a February 2009 article, Molan called for a doubling of the Australian military presence in Afghanistan, from about 1,100 troops to 2,000. [26]

Molan was associated with the Liberal Party, helping to launch the Liberal opposition party's military-led border protection campaign in the lead up to the 2013 federal election in Brisbane on 25 July 2013. [27] Molan has been an outspoken critic of Labor's management of defence matters. [28] Stephen Smith, at the time the minister for defence, described Molan as "partisan" and a "Liberal Party activist". [29] In mid-2014 Molan was engaged as an advisor to minister for defence David Johnston, but resigned after three weeks. In a subsequent interview Molan implied that his resignation was due to dissatisfaction with Johnston. [30]

Political career

At the 2016 federal election, Molan was a Liberal party senate candidate for New South Wales. However, in what former prime minister Tony Abbott called a "tragedy for our country and for our party", Molan failed to be elected. [31]

In November 2017, the High Court of Australia ruled that Nationals Senator Fiona Nash was ineligible to be elected to the Senate due to her dual British citizenship. [32] On 22 December, the High Court declared Molan duly elected in place of Nash. [7] [33]

In February 2018 it was revealed that Molan shared, on his personal Facebook page in March 2017, anti-Muslim content from far-right political party Britain First. [34] [35] [36] Molan refused to apologise for his sharing of this material. [35] In response to the Facebook post, Greens MP Adam Bandt accused Molan of war crimes over his actions in Iraq. Bandt later apologised. [37] [38]

Molan was a member of the centre-right faction of the Liberal Party. [39]

2019 federal election

In November 2018, Molan polled the third-highest number of votes in the Liberal Party's Senate preselection ballot for the 2019 federal election. Subsequently he was placed in the "unwinnable" fourth position on the coalition's Senate ticket in New South Wales, below Hollie Hughes, Andrew Bragg, and the Nationals' candidate Perin Davey. [40]

Molan was disappointed at being relegated to a low-priority position on the official coalition NSW Senate ticket and spoke of being unable to defend the Liberal Party after the decision. [41] Later, in May 2019 during the Australian Federal election campaign, a row broke out affecting both the Liberal Party and the National Party when Molan began an independent campaign, not supported by the Liberal Party, to be elected. Molan and his supporters began urging voters to ignore the official joint how-to-vote instructions issued by both the Liberal Party and the National Party. Instead, voters were encouraged to vote directly for Molan. This independent campaign was reported in the media as leading to marked divisions within the Liberal and National Parties. Disagreements grew to the extent that in the week before the election, senior officials of the National Party in NSW took the "extraordinary step" of advising voters to ignore the agreed Liberal-National how-to-vote card and vote directly for the preferred National Party candidates. [42] Former deputy prime minister and parliamentary leader of the National Party, Barnaby Joyce, was reported as saying that the row threatened to undermine the coalition agreement which existed between the Liberal and National Parties at the federal level. [43]

However, on 10 November 2019, Molan was selected by the NSW Liberal Party to fill the casual vacancy left by the resignation of Senator Arthur Sinodinos. He was appointed by a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament on 14 November 2019, and served the remainder of Sinodinos's six-year term which expired in June 2022. [8] Molan was re-elected at the 2022 federal election for a six-year term starting on 1 July 2022. [44]

Climate change

On 3 February 2020, on the ABC program Q&A , Molan was asked about his declaration that his "mind is open" on whether humans were causing climate change. Asked "What is the evidence you are relying on?", Molan replied: "I'm not relying on evidence..." and was promptly laughed at by the live audience. [45] Molan was challenged about being so open minded that "his brain may fall out" in response to the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season and climate change on the same episode of Q&A. [46]

Published works

Molan has published his opinion on matters related to his expertise, and gave interviews and speeches to recount his experiences. The following is an incomplete list of his published works, interviews, speeches, opinion pieces and debates:


Articles and opinion pieces

Speeches, interviews and debates

Personal life

Molan, son of Andrew Molan, a World War II veteran, and Noni (née Harnetty), was born in Melbourne on 11 April 1950. [9] He was married to Anne and they had three daughters and a son. One of their daughters, Erin Molan, is a media personality and was a presenter of the rugby league television program The Footy Show . [48]

Illness and death

On 5 April 2021, Molan announced that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and that he would be taking leave from the Senate to undergo further testing and treatment. [49]

Molan died on 16 January 2023, at age 72. [50]

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  1. "Maj Gen. (Rtd) (Jim) Andrew James Molan". Who's Who in Australia Online. ConnectWeb. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  2. "MAJOR GENERAL (Retd) ANDREW JAMES (Jim) MOLAN, AO DSC" (PDF). Legacy. 19 July 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 February 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  3. Wroe, David (6 September 2013). "Abbott adviser handed new paid role as envoy". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  4. 1 2 Koziol, Michael (15 March 2016). "'Stop the boats' architect Jim Molan is planning a new mission – to enter Parliament". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  5. "General Jim Molan ready to fight for Liberal Senate spot". The Australian . 25 October 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  6. "Senate – New South Wales". Australia: ABC News. 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  7. 1 2 Hoerr, Karl (22 December 2017). "Jim Molan to replace Fiona Nash in Senate, High Court rules". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  8. 1 2 Karp, Paul (10 November 2019). "Jim Molan wins Senate spot to replace Arthur Sinodinos" . Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  9. 1 2 3 Brown, Malcolm (16 January 2023). "Major-general, senator, pilot: Senator Jim Molan's vast legacy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  10. 1 2 "Death / Funeral Notice". deathsandfunerals.com.au. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  11. 1 2 "Jim Molan". Lowy Institute. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  12. Kim, Tiara (17 January 2023). "Jim Molan Death, NSW Sky news Erin Molan father died from prostate cancer at 72". obitsmemorial.com. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  13. "Member of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 26 January 1992. Citation: For service to the Australian Army as Commanding Officer 6th Battalion, RAR
  14. Hartigan, Brian. "vale – Senator and former Major General Jim Molan". Contact magazine. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  15. Moriarty, Greg; Campbell, Angus J. "Statement on the passing of Senator Jim Molan" (Press release). Defence. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  16. "Officer of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 25 March 2000. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Citation: For distinguished service to the Australian Defence Force as the Head of the Australian Defence Staff in Jakarta during the Indonesian and East Timor crisis.
  17. Molan, 2008, 63–83.
  18. "Distinguished Service Cross (Australian)". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 26 January 2006. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Citation: For distinguished service in command and leadership in action while serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff Civil Military Operations with Multi-National Force – Iraq from April 2004 to April 2005, during Operation CATALYST.
  19. Devine, Miranda (9 December 2006). "To gloat is to insult many brave Iraqis". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  20. Doran, Chris; Anderson, Tim (1 October 2011). "Iraq and the case for Australian war crimes trials". Crime, Law and Social Change. 56 (3): 283–299. doi:10.1007/s10611-011-9314-5. ISSN   1573-0751. S2CID   143057323.
  21. "MAJGEN Jim Molan". Principals. AADI Defence Pty Limited. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013.
  22. Molan, Jim (4 August 2008). "Australia's war unreadiness". Unleashed. Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  23. Molan, Jim (23 July 2013). Running the war in Iraq: an Australian general, 300,000 troops, the bloodiest conflict of our time. HarperCollins (published 2008). ISBN   978-0-7322-8781-8.
  24. Molan, Jim (21 July 2008). "Molan speaks about Iraq". The 7.30 Report (Interview: transcript). Interviewed by Kerry O'Brien. Australia: ABC TV . Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  25. Sheridan, Greg (14 August 2008). "Anzac spirit but not battle ready". The Australian . Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  26. Molan, Jim (17 February 2009). "End the pussyfooting in Afghan war". The Australian . Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  27. Wroe, David (25 July 2013). "Tony Abbott to put three-star commander in charge of military-led border protection campaign". The Sydney Morning Herald .
  28. Peake, Ross (11 July 2013). "Comrades in arms Mike Kelly, Jim Molan hold different views in the battlefield of politics". The Canberra Times .
  29. "Indonesia could close down people smugglers" (transcript). Lateline. 8 July 2013.
  30. Elks, Sarah (21 September 2014). "Defence Minister David Johnston 'the reason' Jim Molan quit role". The Australian . Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  31. Lewis, Rosie (9 August 2016). "Federal election 2016: Tony Abbott slams Libs' failure over Jim Molan". The Australian. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  32. Loussikian, Kylar (11 December 2017). "High Court stops short in endorsing Jim Molan for Senate". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  33. "Senator Jim Molan AO DSC". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia . Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  34. Burke, Liz (6 February 2018). "Senator Jim Molan defends sharing Britain First posts". news.com.au. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  35. 1 2 Bourke, Latika (7 February 2018). "Why is it so hard for Jim Molan to apologise for sharing Britain First material?". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  36. Karp, Paul (27 March 2017). "Liberal senator Jim Molan shared anti-Muslim videos from far-right group". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  37. "Jim Molan responds to Adam Bandt's apology". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  38. Remeikis, Amy; Karp, Paul (8 February 2018). "Jim Molan 'deeply disappointed' by Adam Bandt's apology – politics live". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  39. Massola, James (20 March 2021). "Who's who in the Liberals' left, right and centre factions?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  40. "Senator Jim Molan left in an unwinnable position following Liberal Senate preselection". 4BC. 24 November 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  41. Doran, Matthew (25 November 2018). "Jim Molan says he cannot defend Liberal Party on television after Senate ticket relegation". ABC News. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  42. Koziol, Michael (15 May 2019). "Coalition implodes as Nationals launch their own 'below the line' campaign against Jim Molan". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  43. Koziol, Michael (16 May 2016). "'They fired the first shot': Barnaby Joyce warns Coalition at stake as Senate civil war rages". The Age. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  44. "Senator Jim Molan AO DSC". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  45. Johnson, Paul (4 February 2020). "'I'm not relying on evidence': Molan's frank admission over climate scepticism rocks Q+A". ABC News. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  46. Wolfe, Natalie (4 February 2020). "Trainwreck: Crowd's furious jeers at MP". The Daily Examiner. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  47. Goldstone, Richard (17 September 2008). "Justice in Gaza". The New York Times . Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  48. Doherty, Megan (9 March 2013). "A heart for Canberra and the Raiders". The Canberra Times . Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  49. Galloway, Anthony (5 April 2021). "Senator Jim Molan diagnosed with 'aggressive' cancer". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  50. Hurst, Daniel (17 January 2023). "Liberal senator Jim Molan dies aged 72 after 'sudden' decline in health". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
Military offices
Preceded by
Rear Admiral Raydon Gates
Commander Australian Defence College
Succeeded by
Rear Admiral Mark Bonser
Preceded by
Major General Peter Cosgrove
Commander 1st Division
Succeeded by
Major General Mark Evans