Bandt grovels, Molan ends lawsuit
Major parties must oppose and expose the far left agenda
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.