NSW Liberal senator Jim Molan has announced he is going on sick leave leave after being diagnosed with “an aggressive form of cancer”.
Over the next week, the 70-year-old will undergo a series of medical tests to confirm his prognosis and begin treatment.
In a message to colleagues, Senator Molan said the diagnosis last week had come as a “shock” but declared, “I have many reasons to be positive.”
“I am receiving the best possible care from my clinicians and have the love, support and prayers of my family,” Senator Molan added.
“I have never been afraid to fight the battles that need fighting and this is no exception.”
Senator Molan is the father of Channel Nine personality, Erin Molan.
He spent four decades in the Australian Army, reaching the rank of Major-General, and was awarded for his service in Indonesia and East Timor. He went on to become commander of allied troops in Iraq.
He retired in 2008 and the senator first became involved in politics in 2012 and 2013, when he helped establish the Abbott government’s policy for stopping asylum seeker boats – Operation Sovereign Borders – a controversial plan that included turning boats back to Indonesia.
During this period, he worked closely with now Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has frequently paid tribute to Senator Molan’s work.
“Jen and I wish you and your family all the best for your treatment and recovery,” Mr Morrison wrote in a Facebook post.
“You’ve always put your service above all else. Even now in sharing this news of your illness, your thoughts still turn to how you can continue to serve.
“You’re an incredible person Jim and we will all be here to support you through this challenging time ahead.”
Senator Molan, a favourite of Conservative media commentators, has twice been unsuccessful in his bid to be pre-selected for a safe Senate spot by the NSW Liberal Party.
In 2016, he ran in the unwinnable seventh place on the ticket, and was only appointed to the Senate in 2018 after Nationals politician Fiona Nash was disqualified due to her dual British citizenship.
At the 2019 election, he was pre-selected in fourth position and again failed to gain a Senate seat, however, later that year he was picked to serve the remainder of Arthur Sinodinos’s term, which expires in 2022.
There has been speculation Senator Molan was planning to stand in the Labor-held NSW electorate of Eden-Monaro at the next election.
Kristy McBain, who represents the seat, was among many Labor politicians to wish Senator Molan all the best.
“Hope to see you back doing what you love, representing people, soon,” she wrote.