Bandt grov­els, Molan ends law­suit

Ma­jor par­ties must op­pose and ex­pose the far left agenda

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - GREG BROWN

Lib­eral se­na­tor Jim Molan has ac­cepted a grov­el­ling apol­ogy from Greens MP Adam Bandt, who has promised to make a do­na­tion to a veter­ans’ or­gan­i­sa­tion “as an ex­pres­sion of my sin­cer­ity over this is­sue”.

Mr Bandt yes­ter­day caved in to defama­tion threats and is­sued his sec­ond pub­lic apol­ogy to Se­na­tor Molan in as many days, af­ter be­ing told his ini­tial “six-word apol­ogy” was in­suf­fi­cient.

The Mel­bourne MP has been widely crit­i­cised for call­ing Se­na­tor Molan a “coward” and sug­gest­ing he could have com­mit­ted war crimes.

“On Wed­nes­day, I made state­ments about Se­na­tor Jim Molan on Sky TV in re­la­tion to his ser­vice in Iraq,” Mr Bandt said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

“I wish to pub­licly say that I was wrong to make such ac­cu­sa­tions and in­fer­ences against Se­na­tor Molan. I sin­cerely apol­o­gise and ex­press my re­gret to Se­na­tor Molan and to those who have served in Aus­tralia’s op­er­a­tional the­atres and to their fam­i­lies and friends who were of­fended by my com­ments.”

Se­na­tor Molan, a for­mer army ma­jor gen­eral, said he was pleased with Mr Bandt’s apol­ogy and would not pur­sue defama­tion pro­ceed­ings.

“The most dis­tress­ing part of this saga has been the great num­ber of calls that I and my staff re­ceived from veter­ans, their fam­i­lies and other mem­bers of the wider com­mu­nity from all over the coun­try who were hurt by Adam’s com­ments, ” he said.

On Thurs­day, Se­na­tor Molan re­jected a “weak and dis­ap­point­ing” apol­ogy from Mr Bandt.

Thurs­day’s state­ment said: “Yes­ter­day I made state­ments about Se­na­tor Jim Molan on Sky TV. Mr Molan has stated: ‘I would in­vite Mr Bandt to of­fer me a pub­lic apol­ogy ... If he pub­licly apol­o­gised to me for the state­ments that he made, then that would end the prob­lem.’

“I hereby apol­o­gise for those state­ments.”

Apart from the Bat­man by-elec­tion it is not easy to find a cur­rent ar­gu­ment between the ALP and the Greens. Bill Shorten has adopted the Greens’ idea of a fed­eral anti-cor­rup­tion body and La­bor’s daily in­equal­ity rhetoric matches the Oc­cupy Wall Street slo­ga­neer­ing of the Greens. Once the party of coalmin­ers and other work­ers, La­bor now crab-walks away from Adani’s Carmichael coalmine in cen­tral Queens­land. As a move to help La­bor win the votes of hip­ster, green-left vot­ers in the in­ner north­ern sub­urbs of Mel­bourne, this might be clever pol­i­tick­ing. But as a strat­egy to in­spire con­fi­dence as an al­ter­na­tive gov­ern­ment, it is short­sighted. And as a por­tent for good gov­er­nance in this na­tion it is omi­nous.

The Greens have crept into the heart of na­tional pol­i­tics. While their na­tional ap­peal has fallen back to less than 9 per cent of the Se­nate vote, their bal­ance-of-power sta­tus and the con­cen­tra­tion of their sup­port­ers in the lower house elec­torates of the trendy in­ner sub­urbs in the cap­i­tal cities have en­sured in­flu­ence far be­yond their pop­u­lar ap­peal or in­tel­lec­tual might. Un­usu­ally, the Greens have been called to ac­count this week for rhetor­i­cal over­reach. Mel­bourne MP Adam Bandt joined his col­leagues in vi­cious at­tacks on new Lib­eral se­na­tor and for­mer ma­jor gen­eral Jim Molan over his un­wise re­post­ing of videos cir­cu­lated by the un­savoury group Bri­tain First. The crit­i­cism was out of pro­por­tion but Mr Bandt went too far, re­fer­ring to Se­na­tor Molan’s Iraq war record, dub­bing him a “com­plete coward” and sug­gest­ing he was a war crim­i­nal. He was ad­mon­ished mildly by his leader, Richard Di Natale, and the Op­po­si­tion Leader but is­sued a min­i­mal­ist apol­ogy only af­ter he was threat­ened with le­gal ac­tion. Yes­ter­day, how­ever, Se­na­tor Molan ac­cepted a sec­ond, ful­some apol­ogy from Mr Bandt, who also promised to make a do­na­tion to a veter­ans or­gan­i­sa­tion. As dis­taste­ful as the mat­ter was — and for all the in­sight it gave us into the char­ac­ter of the Greens — it is the least of our wor­ries.

Ex­treme poli­cies on se­ri­ous is­sues are creep­ing into the main­stream de­bate as the ALP, in par­tic­u­lar, is lured fur­ther to the left by so­cial me­dia, ac­tivist noise and in­ner-city cam­paigns. The Greens, for in­stance, op­pose the na­tion’s sec­ond largest ex­port in­dus­try, coalmin­ing, which pro­vides $50 bil­lion in earn­ings, pays $5bn in roy­al­ties and em­ploys 51,000 peo­ple. In­creas­ingly, the ALP is adopt­ing this anti-coal stance, as ev­i­denced by its grad­ual aban­don­ment of the Adani project. The Greens also op­pose the US al­liance and ad­vo­cate for­eign pol­icy plac­ing UN ac­tion above our sov­er­eign in­ter­ests. They have a lib­eral ap­proach on il­licit drugs but an in­ter­ven­tion­ist ap­proach on tax­ing sug­ary drinks. They pro­mote higher taxes and while they sup­port the free move­ment of peo­ple across bor­ders they ar­gue against free trade. Their ex­treme po­si­tions work against the na­tion’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests, its se­cu­rity and its very char­ac­ter. The Greens need to be op­posed and ex­posed by the ma­jor par­ties, not em­braced. Rather than think about votes in Bat­man, Mr Shorten and La­bor need to con­sider jobs in Queens­land — not to men­tion votes in the sub­urbs and re­gions.

Yet there is a cau­tion­ary note, too, for the Prime Min­is­ter. Malcolm Turn­bull will be tempted not to run a can­di­date in Bat­man, max­imis­ing the chances of a Greens win and a blood­ied nose for Mr Shorten. But the in­ter­ests of the Lib­er­als and the na­tion are bet­ter served by run­ning in all seats and pro­vid­ing vot­ers with a vi­able right-of­cen­tre op­tion. The Coali­tion should run in Bat­man and pref­er­ence La­bor ahead of the Greens, demon­strat­ing its de­ter­mi­na­tion to place Aus­tralia’s in­ter­ests above par­ti­san point-scor­ing.

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