Flat White

Jim Molan heads back to the preselection trenches

2 October 2019

12:54 PM

2 October 2019

12:54 PM

Jim Molan’s military contemporaries regard him as one of the most skilled tacticians of his generation.

More, he thinks strategically so knows just how tactics should be executed to fit long-term strategic aims.

He was also required to box while a cadet at Duntroon, so is prepared to go toe-to-toe with opponents.

Widely regarded as a token candidate in 2016, uninformed critics who thought he had no chance of election wrote him off, particularly those on the then influential left of the NSW Liberal party.

They tolerated him for name and reputation — although that tolerance didn’t extend to sitting with him in the senate.

Even then, with little effort, Molan garnered a healthy 10,000 below the line votes, the highest for that election.

As the section 44 drama quickly revealed the paucity of the Coalition machine’s candidates’ vetting process, a war of attrition began.

In December 2017 the High Court ruled dual-citizen National Fiona Nash ineligible to sit, giving Molan the role.

In this year’s May election Molan was again relegated to an unwinnable spot, though this time his supporters were better organised.


ABC election analyst Antony Green considered Molan would need at least 150,000 below the line votes, a target he considered “fanciful”.

Critics again underestimated Molan’s determination or, perhaps more tellingly, his electoral campaign troops.

Molan garnered an impressive 115,745 BTL votes, representing 2.53 per cent of the total vote, the highest ever since Senate voting practices were reformed.

Even that wasn’t enough for some in the Liberal party machine, especially those self-considered “influential” members whom he angered by trying to make the party’s preselection processes more democratic by giving more say to ordinary party members.

Today the battle to have Molan appointed to the NSW vacancy created by Senator Arthur Sinodinos retirement to become Australia’s ambassador to Washington has formally begun.

Sinodinos’ resignation now paves the way for a six-week pre-selection to begin on a date to be announced imminently.

Molan will approach that process as he would any tactical battle by first assessing the forces arranged for and against him.

There were potentially five candidates preparing to stand though with the recent withdrawal of Warren Mundine, that leaves four.

On Monday night, September 30, Molan, received the backing of the NSW Liberal’s right faction.

He also appears to have the support of the centre-right.

Where the main challenge lies is with the left, or as they prefer to term themselves “moderates”, within which lies “the anyone but Molan” faction.

The next six weeks or so will be interesting.

Molan will approach the process from all three perspectives, strategic, tactical and individual.

Having faced the same foes during the 2016 preselection process they should then not underestimate his tenacity and determination.

Let the battle begin.

Ross Eastgate blogs at Targets Down.

Illustration: Sky News Australian screencap.

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