Senator Jim Molan AO DSC

On 14 February 2018, Senator Jim Molan made his first speech in this place. It's far too soon, only five years almost to the week, to have honoured him in the condolence motion on Monday. As the service of Major General Jim Molan in the Australian Army was of distinction and merit, so too was the service of Senator Jim Molan in this place. I know he was rightly proud of both, and I know that pride was keenly shared by his wife, Anne; his children, Sarah, Felicity, Erin and Michael; his grandchildren; and his siblings. Those of us who were honoured to attend his moving funeral service at Anzac Memorial Chapel of St Paul at Duntroon were also honoured to see that pride and love writ large. To the lovely Anne and to Jim's whole beautiful family, I extend my sincere condolences.

As well as being a valued New South Wales colleague, I had known Jim long before his arrival here. I recall well our first introduction in Dili, Timor-Leste, in 1999, at the time of the holding of the Popular Consultation for autonomy or independence for East Timor. Then Brigadier Molan was with Australian's distinguished ambassador to Jakarta John McCarthy, supporting Australia's presence in Dili for the ballot. I was a member of the Australian parliamentary delegation led by former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, which included another senator, Democrat Vicki Bourne. Vicki wanted me to convey her sympathies to Jim's family. She recalls Jim from that delegation fondly too.

Jim was head of Australia's defence staff in Jakarta at that time, a critical period in Australia-Indonesia relations and a critical time for the newly independent fledgling nation of Timor-Leste. Jim's skills - military, diplomatic and linguistic - were all brought to bear on that tumultuous period before the arrival of INTERFET. 

Through parliamentary committee work, including on RAMSI, I saw quite a bit of Jim as a senior officer over the ensuing years. Much has been written and much said in this chamber and in the other place of his distinguished military service. His record and his honours speak volumes, and Australia is a better place for Senator Molan's long Army service.

In my role as defence minister, Jim always ensured that I was in no doubt about both his passionate commitment to Australia's national security and his priorities in that regard. Every colour he nailed to the mast on those issues in that first speech five years ago he prosecuted the case for in his strong policy advocacy. Similarly, in his own writings, that commitment and passion is clear.

At his funeral service, speaking to both serving and former members of the ADF about their shared service with Jim at multiple levels, I was not surprised to hear about the respect and gratitude many of them described. He honoured them in his first speech, in dedicating his Senate service to those same people.

Across New South Wales in recent years, Senator Molan and I had a great working relationship, culminating in sharing positions on the 2022 coalition Senate ticket. He strongly represented regional New South Wales, and I particularly enjoyed being on the ground with him across regional New South Wales and working with his excellent and professional team, led by Jackie Cummins. To Jackie and to Jim's team, I also convey my sympathies. I know this is a very difficult time.

I was unable to participate in the condolence motion on Monday because of another funeral—for my dear friend and sometimes horticultural adviser Danny Mallard in Sydney, and I apologise to the Molan family and to the Senate chamber for that—too many funerals right now. I salute Jim Molan; a leader; a thinker; an author; a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and brother; a friend and a colleague; and an absolute gentleman. I add my grateful thanks for his lifetime of service.