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Has anybody seen Tony’s envoy?

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

”I am as happy as a pig in shit – you can quote me on that – doing what I’m doing at the moment.” – Special Envoy Jim Molan.

Has anyone seen Molan, Tony’s personal “troubleshooter” on asylum seekers who promised to convince Indonesia to sign up to the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy?

For those of you who don’t recognise the name, he was the tame retired general who was trotted out before the election campaign to assure every news program that would have him on that the tow-back policy would work and that Indonesia would just cop it.

General Molan was instrumental in developing and promoting the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders asylum-seeker policy, under which border protection would come under the command of a three-star military commander. He has been a key player including helping to launch Operation Sovereign Borders when Mr Abbott and his immigration spokesman Scott Morrison announced the policy in July (refer above photo).

General Molan denied he was a Liberal Party activist, as suggested by then Defence Minister Stephen Smith but told the ABC governments should achieve outcomes:

”I find that the people on the other side of Parliament . . . in the Opposition, have experience in doing what I want them to do, that is, secure our borders”.

”They have a greater probability of success and they’re an impressive bunch.”

Emboldened by his acceptance into the fold, Mr Molan penned a few articles. In July he wrote the following piece:

“Defence is not in the public mind as much as borders, but defence and borders are linked by the common failure of the Labor Party in government.

Australians should be quite sure that our Indonesian friends could stop the flow of people through Indonesia to Australia in a relatively short period of time. Commentators or politicians who imply that we are asking something impossible of our nearest big neighbour, are downright wrong. I make this judgement from living in Indonesia for five years and working intimately with the Indonesian security apparatus, and it applies now within a democratic Indonesia.

If the Indonesians achieved half the success in moving against the people smugglers as they have in countering terrorism, then there would be no appreciable problem. Indonesians do not see people smuggling as a significant problem for themselves, and are sensitive because they have tens of thousands of their citizens illegally overseas as workers. Corruption is also part of it with some locals on the take, and the anarchical nature of the Indonesian media means that leaders must not be too close to Australia.

To control our borders, we should not have to rely on the self-interest of our neighbour, but it would be really good if our neighbour assisted us as a friend, as we have assisted them significantly in the past. I have not forgotten our role in East Timor, but the final report of the Indonesian-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship Indonesia allows Australia to confidently occupy the moral high ground in relation to that issue. If people smuggling is truly a big enough issue, and around 70 per cent of Australians certainly consider it so, then Australia needs to impress on Indonesia the seriousness of the situation, not just go to Indonesia and list people smuggling as an agenda item.

So, if this is a real problem to an Australian government, then what will get our big friend’s attention is Australia’s resolve, part of which is returning the boats to Indonesia in order to totally disrupt the people smugglers’ business. If Australia agrees only to pay for offshore processing in some new Indonesian Galang, we will have signed a blank cheque for Indonesia to cash for as long as it wants, much Australian money will be wasted by inefficiency and corruption, and people smugglers will just move a bit further down the supply chain and once again wait us out, knowing that their customers will finally end up in Australia.

And boats can be turned back. The techniques for doing so should not be discussed openly for the same reason that we do not discuss operational detail in Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.”

One can only wonder how this missive was received in Indonesia.

At the beginning of August we hear from Molan again:

“The nation needs South Australia’s submarines much faster, a top military mind says.

Retired Major General Jim Molan, an adviser to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and a former senior soldier, says more money is needed to get the 12 new submarines up and running. Construction will not begin until 2017 at the very earliest, and Maj Gen Molan said it was likely to be 2030 before they’re in the water.

He says Australia needs a decade of increased spending to get to “where we should be”.

Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston reiterated the Coalition policy to draw up a new White Paper within 18 months if they win the election, which would include a new Defence Capability Plan. He said the Government had a history of delaying important projects and that a Coalition Government would see the Future Submarine Project as a “top priority”.

“That’s why we’re redoing the White Paper . . . we are committed to the submarines in SA,” he said.

I wonder how that made Holden feel?

When, lo and behold, Tony Abbott then offered him the role of “Special Envoy” in late August, General Molan denied he had been offered a job for spruiking the policy:

”At no stage did I recommend that there be a regional envoy,” he said. ”At no stage in the derivation of the policy was I ever driven by self-interest. I have been retired [from the army] for five years and I am totally enjoying it. I also make a shed-load of money, so I’m not in this for the money. However, the logic of doing it is unchallengeable.

”I am as happy as a pig in shit – you can quote me on that – doing what I’m doing at the moment.”

Yet further:

“I have a good understanding of the region . . . and I have many friends up there. I will be the troubleshooter, I will be the fixer. Technically I have been directed to facilitate regional co-operation. That is the political speak . . . what it means is I will be concentrating on a number of countries to make sure we have a regional deterrence framework. The vast majority of the solving can be done internally in Indonesia and they want to solve it. People smuggling is against their domestic law. And there is a kit bag of tools that we can use to make this work.”

“I’ve been retired for five years, I have lived in fear of being offered a job I would want to take . . . and now it has come. This is a job we in the military can do well. And it is critical we get it right.”

Is it just me, or is he showing an unhealthy enthusiasm to have gunboats to play with again? Most people who deal with asylum seekers are traumatised by the encounter rather than “happy as a pig in shit”.

A little history about Special Envoy Major General (retired) Molan . . .

He was the chief of operations of the allied forces in Iraq with responsibility for the operations in Fallujah. Faith in military solutions convinced Molan that George Bush’s troop surge in Iraq delivered “victory” to the Western occupiers, a reasonable judgement if victory is defined as the destruction of the country and the immiseration of its population. If you claim to have run the war in Iraq, it may be necessary to believe this nonsense. By almost any measure, the war in Iraq has been one of the greatest military catastrophes of modern history.

In 2009 he recommended in articles in The Interpreter and in the Australian Army Journal to send a further 6000 Australian troops to Afghanistan for up to 5 years. Despite growing public opposition to sending more troops (65% of Australians were opposed) and a failure to subdue the Taliban since we first attacked them in October 2001, Molan still believed a military victory in Afghanistan was “a fair probability,” even if he could neither define it nor explain why the course of the war would suddenly change with additional foreign troops.

In language borrowed from the Bush Administration, Molan claimed “our enemies play on our morality and exploit our goodness,” blaming the waning ‘popular’ support for the war for exposing “our greatest vulnerability, our resolve.”

Finally, in a paragraph about the mismanagement of the war and corruption in Kabul, Molan blames NATO, a “poor constitution,” and “Hamid Karzai’s natural Afghan ways . . . ” What is he suggesting here? That Afghans are naturally corrupt and untrustworthy, hence our failure to ‘win’ the war? There is no other interpretation of these extraordinary and unfortunate remarks.

Scott Burchill, in a scathing assessment of Molan, said “it would be surprising for military men to advocate political solutions to global conflicts. It’s not their area of professional expertise. By default they lead with their strongest suit – organised violence – not geopolitics or diplomacy.”

The Coalition has budgeted $1.1 million for the role of Special Envoy over two years. Why is the person who designed the asylum seeker policy, and who is supposedly the “fixer”, the man who has “friends in high places” and who has been flying around at our expense visiting them – why is he not at the weekly briefings instead of that poor benighted General Campbell?

Could it be because they have chosen as “Special Envoy” a man who enjoys wars, a man who thinks we need more guns and submarines, a man who thinks all Afghanis and Indonesians are corrupt ? No wonder we are in trouble.

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  1. David

    For mine, General (retired) Molan belongs in the pig shit you so aptly describe Kaye. Apart from being an outright liar (good company for Abbott and Morisson) anyone who aligns themselves with victory in Iraq and GW Bush is tainted goods without having to say anymore.
    This Government has destroyed any goodwill the Labor Govt fostered and enjoyed in the SE Asian region, Sri Lanka excepted.

  2. mikestasse

    Thanks for that eye opening article Kaye Lee……. I knew nothing about this general til now….

  3. Joe Banks

    Good work, Kaye Lee. It is a pity the wider populace do not get to read articles such as these…
    People like Abbott and Morrisson are always impressed by the likes of Molan because they are a reflection of themselves.

  4. Geoff Of Epping

    likewise, Kaye. I had not known about this creature.

  5. John Fraser


    Another top brass (think Kafer) career soldier on whose watch barstidization flourished in the armed forces.

    Add in Jim Wallace (currently with the Australian Christian Lobby ACL).

    The picture of "Slick' Abbott's gang of religiouswarfaring bullies comes together.

    A National emergency, declared by a National embarrassment, supported by a national disgrace!

    "Defence probably has as many homophobes as society in general, which is sad. I have met only one, and he came from another generation." … J. Molan

    Pretty obvious this twat moves in Pell and "Slick" Abbott's very limited circle.

  6. Terry2

    “The nation needs South Australia’s submarines much faster, a top military mind says.”

    and Sophie will deliver them ?

  7. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee.
    you made my day with your article.
    exposing dumb pricks.
    That’s your calling in life.
    go girl.

  8. Sandra Searle (@SandraSearle)

    Cornie, you have also made my day with your comment ;:-))
    Kaye Lee, you are really excelling with your research. It is something that you should be proud of & something that those of us who really care about what is happening to our democracy should read & forward through our social media sites.
    Michael Taylor, please. please can you fix the problem with twitter & facebook forwards. Cafe Whispers works well but not here on AIMN.

  9. diannaart

    Thanks Kaye Lee

    So the Abbottoir has determined Australia needs armaments more than it does a functioning commercial manufacturing industry.

    What was that about “open for business”?

  10. diannaart


    Your words are pearls of wisdom – Sophie Mirabella + upgrading the military, I so get it.

  11. cornlegend

    Abbott knows what he’s doing with the military
    We all know the trouble with the Collins class subs.
    Thats why they appointed Sophie to the Submarine club
    Sophie could kick start them if problems develop, or she could scrub the decks, while cruising 20 metres down, or act as a buoy when anchored, or as a foghorn in stormy weather., or scare the shit out of any older wealthier sailors [preferably with dementia}, or just sit and evil eye the rest of the Sub Club members to scare them into doing what the lycra Loonie wants.
    the possibilities are endless
    Multitasking…………. .

  12. Paul Raymond Scahill

    Sophie Mirrabella in any position would be highly distasteful, still Abbott (read that as “village Idiot” probably thinks that is wonderful. Also apart from Sick Abbott, did I get that right, who would even consider paying retired General Moylan anywhere near the reputed salary for 2 years, 1.1 million. Only the newly elected LNP, despite there being a “budget emergency”.

  13. Anura Samara (@neo_the_fat_cat)

    I know Jim personally – he knows that I don’t share his politicial views, we’ve had a few good arguments on Twitter. But in between his new career (not sure what it is, seems to be providing advice, a bit of media etc) he is a member of my RFS Brigade and unlike a few others I can vouch that he has actually been to real fires! It’s a funny feeling as an officer to be giving out directions to a Major-General but with the Brigade he is a very down to earth guy and happy to work as instructed.

    So while I agree with the comments here about his political views and the things he has said, as a person I have to respect the commitment he puts into the RFS (as I do with any other volunteer).

    One of the great things about the RFS is we bag the crap out of him after every media appearance!

  14. cornlegend

    Paul Raymond Scahill

    I’ve heard 2 star promoted to 3 star Moylan on a few occasions with Morrison , doing their protecting of the Nation with “Operation Sovereign Boring”
    What a waste of space, and oxygen.
    I calculated what would be a fair wage, never mind the $1.1 million
    $16.37 per hour
    National minimum wage for adults according to Fair Work Australia.

    Now even that would be overpayment for these pair of dickheads.
    Furthermore, I reckon there are ample reasons to terminate their employment, on the grounds of incompetence

  15. Kaye Lee


    Thank you so much for putting a human face to the man. I thank you both for what you, and the many like you that volunteer their time and endanger their own lives and property, do to protect us all.

    I also thank you for reminding me, and us all, that we are all people leading real lives. We may disagree but it should always be done with respect. We may debate but it should be done with facts. Understanding the other person and communicating ideas may help us to find solutions. Abuse never will, regardless of what our new Attorney General and Human Rights Commissioner may feel.

    Perhaps next time you and Jim meet up you could tell him how much your comments helped me to understand a man. Perhaps if we humanised asylum seekers it would lead to better community understanding of the people and the problem and we could help find a solution.

  16. Kaye Lee

    On the off chance that Mr Molan may see this I would like to say a couple of things.

    I feel I am coming to know you a bit better. Forgive my presumption in sharing my musings.

    You are a man who wants to protect people, a man that doesn’t just talk about it, a man that gets in there and helps.

    You have served your country in battle, and at home, and have had to quickly make decisions that no man should have to make and face danger that no person would invite.

    I thank all our servicemen and women for doing a job that I could not possibly do. I hope that they believe in what they are doing because that is surely the greatest reward that we can offer to those who risk their lives in our service and who have to see and do things that have an effect on their lives that can’t be erased.

    As a military man, you have expertise in a certain direction. You have offered a suggestion based on this experience and expertise. I would ask you, as a person, to listen to the stories of the people who have fled the danger you fought against. Listen to what others in Australia are saying about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.

    You were given a task to “stop the boats” and, like all good military men, you sought to fulfil your brief. As you are no doubt now better aware, it is a complex problem that cannot have a simplistic military solution. I am also concerned about the effect it is having on our servicemen and women.

    You are in a position of influence. I hope you choose to inform yourself of the many aspects of this problem and use your voice to help these people.

  17. lawrencewinder

    Ta for this gem of an article: reading Molan’s writing he must have been under the tutelage of Amanda “Il Patrone” Vanstone … and with such skills, it’s no wonder his Y11 careers teacher suggested he join the military.

  18. diannaart

    Thanks Anura for providing an extra dimension to Jim Molan.

    Top work Kaye Lee – better to extend a hand of friendship than further widening the cracks between people.

    Leaves me wondering about the human side of many others, not easy.

  19. Pingback: Fruitcakes of a Feather « The Australian Independent Media Network

  20. anaryl

    @John Fraser: “”

    Hahahhhhhhhahahahaha – not only did you source a wordpres, but it’s a “truth seeker” WP… hahahahahahahahahahaha

    Way to dismember your own credibility dude.

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