Erin’s gut-wrenching day in parliament

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Erin Molan has watched on as the colleagues of her late father, Jim, delivered a moving memorial to the man they remembered as a “patriot”.

On Monday, both chambers paused to reflect on the life of the NSW senator who died last month after a battle with cancer.

Anthony Albanese honoured the former major-general’s contribution to Australia, first in the army before eventually joining the Senate.

“Jim always spoke with clarity, depth of feeling and the weight that can only come with experience,” the Prime Minister told the House.

“Those of us on this side of politics may not have always agreed with his views, but we never doubted the strength or the sincerity of his convictions.”

Family and friends of the late senator gathered in the public gallery to hear the moving tributes.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton told the love story of Senator Molan and his wife Anne, which was shared at his funeral last week.

Erin Molan and her family watched on as the Senate paid tribute to her late father. Picture: APH BroadcastErin Molan and her family watched on as the Senate paid tribute to her late father. Picture: APH Broadcast

“Jim cherished his roles as a father, as a husband, as a grandfather and brother above all else,” he said.

“The family man, the soldier, the diplomat, the adviser, the politician, the author and the commentator. There was an interplay in all that he was.

“Those who knew Jim could see the father’s care in the general, the general’s mind in the writer, the writer’s knowledge in the senator and the senator‘s love in the family man.

“Jim considered himself to be an ordinary Australian but he had an extraordinary life.”

Earlier in the upper house, opposition senate leader Simon Birmingham credited Senator Molan for his focus on national and border security.

“He specifically singled out the impact of Russia, Iran, China and North Korea in threatening the liberal world order, and creating strategic uncertainty and instability in different ways, events and actions that have occurred since have certainly validated his concerns from that time,” Senator Birmingham said.

“He was clear that we should welcome China though, from a position of strength and needed to increase our self reliance.

Penny Wong spoke of her admiration of the former soldier and Senator. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamagePenny Wong spoke of her admiration of the former soldier and Senator. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

“For Jim, it was a simple case of showing leadership in the face of a saying that he often repeated, be ready and be strong, because the world is a nasty and brutal place.”

Prior to entering politics, the Senator’s military career spanned 40 years and has been credited as one of the architects of Operation Sovereign Borders – a hard line military-led policy to deter asylum seekers arriving by boat.

He entered parliament in 2017 after Fiona Nash was disqualified over her dual citizenship.

In 2019, he was relegated to the unwinnable fourth position on the Liberal Senate ticket but was later appointed to the casual vacancy caused by the departure of Arthur Sinodinos. He was re-elected to the Senate at the 2022 federal election.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Senator Molan left a legacy of professionalism, dedication and service.

“Australia owes a debt of gratitude to Jim Molan for his dedicated service to our country in our defence force, through public policy and in our parliament,” she said.

Senator Molan diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2021. He died peacefully with his family by his side on January 16 at the age of 72.

Senator Molan is survived by his wife Anne, four children and five grandchildren.

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