Jim Molan | April 11, 1950 – January 16, 2023

A Life Dedicated to Service: Jim Molan, R.I.P.

8 February 2023

2.3 MINS

Andrew James (Jim) Molan had a commanding presence. At six feet four inches (195 centimetres) in height, he towered over most people in a room.

Jim Molan was a giant of a man, not just in stature, but in the unending fight against authoritarianism. His contribution to the freedom and liberty of subjugated people in many parts of the world was remarkable. His passing has been the source of much rightful acknowledgment of his contributions to Australia.

Chief among those contributions was his 40 years of service as a member of the Australian Defence Force, rising to the rank of Major-General, and serving as Chief-of-Staff for the allied operations in Iraq in 2004-05. He had also been on the front lines, placing his own life in danger to rescue or protect others, in Timor and elsewhere.

Few Australians have achieved the military stature of Jim Molan.

He was also the architect of the policies that secured our borders and saved the lives of many people who would have risked death by drowning at sea at the hands of the people smugglers — although others often took the credit for his work.

For these achievements, he was rightfully awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Legion of Merit, and made an Officer in the Order of Australia.

Jim Molan | April 11, 1950 – January 16, 2023

Jim Molan | April 11, 1950 – January 16, 2023


It was in his post-military life that I came to know Jim Molan. His political vocation did not reach the dazzling achievements of his military career, partially as a consequence of the factional warfare that taints the Liberal Party, especially in New South Wales. But he did the nation a great service in continually warning of the real dangers faced by Australia.

While forthright in his opinions, Jim was always friendly, ready to discuss an issue whether or not his conversant agreed with him.

Echoing the words often attributed to Edmund Burke — “that the only necessity for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing” — Jim warned:

“Governments of all political persuasions are guilty of a moral failure of the highest order to expect that the spirit and blood of the nation will act as a substitute for proper preparations to face evil in the world.”

As a wartime commander, Jim Molan was acutely aware of the responsibility he had for the troops under his command, and the sense of final things that accompanied that duty. He was critical of the wishful thinking that infected discussions about national security. Whether it was our precarious energy security, our lack of defence capability, or our naivety that Australia is somehow protected by the “tyranny of distance”, he argued for an honest national discussion and for the practical, urgent measures to ensure our freedom.

Fighting to the End

His book, Danger on Our Doorstep: Could Australia Go to War with China? is the telling warning that Jim wrote, knowing that he was fighting his own battle with cancer. Despite his family’s concerns for his health, Jim remained at his post, arguing his case, questioning defence officials, and pressing his message until prevented by the progression of his illness just a few weeks ago.

The forthcoming review of our defence readiness will tell whether Jim Molan’s warnings have been observed.

If more Australians hear and understand his message, and our Government responds to it, Jim Molan will have done this nation another great service.

His wife, Anne, and his family can be proud of the service of a great Australian.


Kevin Andrews is a former federal Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party and a former Defence Minister.
Originally published in News Weekly.

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One Comment

  1. Kaylene Emery 8 February 2023 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    He will hear the words Well done Good and faithful servant “.
    Imagine…. a life so well lived.

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