Senator Jim Molan

In his first speech, Jim Molan declared: “Those journos who call me a member of the NSW Hard Right have never met a member of the New South Wales Hard Right”. I haven’t met Jim Molan but I have known and worked with many in the NSW Hard Right. Make no mistake. Jim speaks like them. He has written for Quadrant, for an anthology of essays called Making Australia Right: Where To From Here? edited by James Allan of the UQ Law School and for the Liberal Party’s hopeless attempt to mimic GetUp!.

Jim Molan could have entered the Senate in the same way most other Senators do — quietly and with minimal fuss. But this was not to be. Molan’s positions on internal NSW Liberal Party matters have given him enemies in high places. If I had any to spare, I’d put money on a Liberal Party member alerting a journalist to the racial madness appearing Molan’s Facebook page.

As a new Senator, Molan’s job must surely go beyond retweeting and posting the ranting videos of Alex Jones’ “journalists” or the nationalist terrorism of Britain First. He needs to be the ears that all New South Welshmen and women can speak into. 

Molan argued in his speech that one should “only do what you do well”. Which I guess means stick to the things you have knowledge and experience in. Molan has had plenty of experience in matters military, and his views are worth considering whatever you might think of his politics. In his speech, Molan said that Australia’s defence has never been this good. I hope he’s right because it’s hard to disagree with Molan when he says that the military capacity and capabilities of the United States have been severely diminished. We can no longer take for granted that the Land of the Free that saved us from Japanese imperialism during the 1940s can save us from a potential communist imperialism should China decide to flex more than just its economic muscle. “The myth of US power and resolve” is something we can no longer rely on.

Molan advocates greater reliance on our own defence capabilities and greater transparency and accountability for every dollar we spend. This is hardly Hard Right policy but just good common sense.

I’m no defence boffin but I respect the fact that Molan admitted that many in the defence and foreign affairs sector, both academics and practitioners, don’t agree with him. Among them is Professor John Blaxland, Head at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at ANU who told Crikey that Molan is among the more outspoken army people, and that his outspokenness may have cost him greater promotion. 

But what of Molan’s involvement in the Operation Sovereign Borders project? Blaxland said that the whole point of sovereign borders wasn’t just about securing the borders or stopping the deadly criminal people smuggling trade. It was also about managing our bilateral relationship with Indonesia.

I can’t quite see how OSB achieved that. But I’ll take Molan’s advice and stick to what I know. My parents came to Australia as “legal” migrants with skills this nation needed. Molan argued in his first speech that Australia needs to cut its legal migrant intake as our cities cannot cope with the infrastructural or cultural pressures.

But surely infrastructural pressures are issues we can handle. Yes, infrastructure is a problem. But also an opportunity. Even Bob Santamaria, hero to many in the hard-Right Liberal Catholic faction, say major infrastructure spending as the road to economic growth and employment. Cities in our Asian region have public transport systems that massively outrank Sydney and Melbourne. Once on a Tokyo railway station platform, I heard an announcement apologising for a train arriving two minutes early! 

People who think Australian cities cannot absorb the cultures of skilled people from other countries simply don’t understand Australian cities. What is the culture of our cities anyway? Has the Senator walked along Haldon Street in Lakemba or Auburn Road, Auburn? Or even Victoria Ave in the middle-class suburb of Chatswood, in the heart of the seat of Premier Gladys Berejiklian? True, he may not be able to read the Chinese or Bengali script or understand the Turkish words. But he should be able to appreciate the free spirit of migrant-generated free enterprise. Small business is the cultural and economic backbone of recent migration.

Immigrants get the job done. Molan should stick to matters military.​

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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