Recently Jim Molan has been best known as Footy Show host Erin Molan’s dad, but that may be about to change.
The retired major general looks set to be declared Australia’s latest senator when the High Court sits tomorrow as the Court of Disputed Returns.
It will be a sweet victory for Molan who was relegated to an unwinnable spot on the Coalition’s 2016 Senate ticket.
The Coalition was happy to exploit Molan’s profile but factional bastardry prevailed and he was not successful at the election.
It’s ironic the old soldier may prevail as Australia’s constitutional farce has inflicted parliamentary casualties like bullets on a battlefield.
Molan’s forceful personality and intellect will be welcome additions to the Senate where mediocre self-interest has been the recent norm.
He joins a list of former soldiers who turned to politics after distinguished military careers.
He will also be one of the highest ranked.
Former major generals Sir Neville Howse, Australia’s first Victoria Cross recipient, divisional commanders Sir William Glasgow and Sir John Gellibrand all entered parliament, the latter in the Tasmanian seat of Denison, currently held by another former soldier Andrew Wilkie.
Molan’s military career after graduating from Duntroon in December 1971 took him to Papua New Guineau, Indonesia and ultimately Iraq where he was coalition deputy chief of staff for operations.
Along the way, he collected an arts degree from the University of New South Wales and an economics degree from Queensland University, became fluent in Melanesian Pidgin and Bahasa Indonesia, and qualified as fixed wing and helicopter pilot.
He was also an army parachutist.
Molan commanded at every level from platoon to division, taking over the Brisbane based 1st Division from Major General Peter Cosgrove after his return from East Timor.
Molan also served in East Timor before and during the Australian-led INTERFET deployment, but as the unarmed Australian defence attaché to Indonesia.
His Indonesian language skills and personal bravery contributed significantly to the successful deployment of INTERFET to East Timor and notably the lack of casualties.
Molan was appointed AM after commanding 6RAR, advanced to AO for his service in Indonesia, awarded the DSC and an American Legion of Merit for his service in Iraq.
He has also been decorated by the Indonesians.
After Iraq, Molan was appointed Commandant of the Australian Defence College, with responsibility for overseeing officer training at ADFA, the Australian Command and Staff College and the Australian Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies.
Since retiring he has acted as an advisor to several bodies including devising the Coalitions military-led border protection program, Operation Sovereign Borders.
He spectacularly resigned as an advisor to Liberal defence minister David Johnson in 2014 after expressing dissatisfaction with the minister’s performance.
The soldier-educator will bring an incredible intellect to the Senate, not to mention a robust personal style to debate and political discourse.
Both Neville Howse and William Glasgow also served with the 1st Division, Howse as its senior medical officer on Gallipoli and in France, Glasgow as its commander in France in World War I.
Both became federal defence ministers during their inter-war parliamentary careers.
If appointed to the Senate, Molan will be a worthy successor to his military forbears, as a representative and a potential defence minister.
It’s time another former distinguished, experienced soldier was given the role.
Despite the possibility he will still be Jim Molan who also happens to be Erin Molan’s dad.
Ross Eastgate is a defence commentator who blogs at: http://targetsdown.blogspot.com.au/
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