Parliamentary Speech: In Memory of Jim Molan


It's an honour this evening to remember the late Senator Jim Molan in this place. Jim was a friend, he was a colleague, and he was a patriot. But he was also a man of immense warmth and energy, and I want to focus on that aspect of his character tonight. The warmth and energy is my enduring memory of him, from my first encounter to our final goodbye late last year.

I first met Jim in 2005 as an officer cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy. I'd started a history society and we were after speakers to come and speak to the cadets, and Jim had just come back from Iraq, where he was the commanding general or running operations over there, and he took up the offer. He didn't have to, but he did. He was generous with his time. He came and spoke to us about his efforts running the coalition over there. I remember meeting him at the ADFA flagpole all those years ago, and he gave me a big handshake, a big warm smile, and went straight to nicknames. He said, 'G'day, Andy, great to be here, mate,' instantly putting me at ease. He was a senior officer at that time, but that was his way with people. His enthusiasm gave energy and confidence to others.

When we served in the parliament more than a decade later, Jim was the same man, brimming with energy, ideas and goodwill. I remember, on the intelligence committee, working with Jim. Having hip replacements, working through painkillers—none of that stopped him; he kept contributing. I remember thinking to myself, 'If I've got that much energy at his age, I'll be a very lucky man.'

Jim's contribution in this parliament, I think, was that he was singularly focused on Australia's security, devoting his final years to sounding the bell on areas of concern, from national strategy to supply chain resilience. In all of this, Jim was direct about the threats to Australia, even if his straight talk made people uncomfortable, which it did. Tough conversations are never easy, but Jim was always a soldier at heart, by vocation and instinct. He was bluff and straightforward, and his duty came first. I think that's why he wrote and finished Danger on our Doorstep while battling cancer. He believed that Australia—the public; that's who the book was aimed at—needed to have the tough conversation about our strategic circumstances. He didn't give much away while he was battling cancer, but, even as the shadows lengthened, he finished the mission of completing that book. I think that will be his lasting contribution to the public discussion about where we go from here over the next decade and beyond.

As Jim and I parted ways in parliament late last year, the warmth was there. The energy was growing dim, I must say, but he was still that same man that I'd met all those years ago as a cadet. I didn't know it at the time, but that was his way of saying goodbye. He was moving around the building giving people a warm smile and a big handshake, and that was his way of saying goodbye, knowing that end was near. He still had much to contribute to public life. I'm grateful for the ways he strengthened me and strengthened other colleagues. I'm grateful for the intellectual contribution he made to public life, and I think our nation has lost a great soldier, a thinker and a genuine and true servant of the Australian people. My thoughts and prayers remain with his wife, Anne; his children; and the broader Molan family.