Hockey announces Coalition costings
RAW VISION: Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey says the Coalition's costings 'make a lie' of Labor's campaign claims. Nine NewsPT0M44S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2t7ji 620 349 September 5, 2013
A retired army general acting as the Coalition's independent adviser on border protection has defended his planned appointment to a taxpayer-funded job as Tony Abbott's ''special envoy'' on people-smuggling.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott confirmed this week that Major-General Jim Molan, a former military attache in Jakarta and chief of operations of allied forces in Iraq, would become the ''Operation Sovereign Borders special envoy'' if the Coalition wins Saturday's election.
Major-General Jim Molan will become the 'Operation Sovereign Borders special envoy' if the Coalition wins Saturday's election. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
General Molan was instrumental in developing the Coalition's Operation Sovereign Borders asylum-seeker policy, under which border protection would come under the command of a three-star military commander.
He has been a key player in designing and promoting the Coalition's asylum-seeker policies, including helping to launch Operation Sovereign Borders when Mr Abbott and his immigration spokesman Scott Morrison announced the policy in July.
That policy in turn gave rise to the special envoy role, which was announced two weeks ago and entails liaising with Jakarta and other regional players on deterring people smuggling.
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General Molan said on Thursday he had no input into the creation of the envoy role and at no stage had he been promised a job by the Coalition while he was giving advice on the policy.
''At no stage did I recommend that there be a regional envoy,'' he said. ''At no stage in the derivation of the policy was I ever driven by self-interest.
''I have been retired [from the army] for five years and I am totally enjoying it. I also make a shed-load of money, so I'm not in this for the money. However, the logic of doing it is unchallengeable.
''I am as happy as a pig in shit - you can quote me on that - doing what I'm doing at the moment.''
He said the alternative was to appoint someone with no knowledge of border protection or of Indonesia. He had been working in the region ''on and off for most of my life'', he said, including two stints as a military attache at the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
The Coalition has budgeted $1.1 million for the role over two years, though that will include travel and expenses. General Molan said he did not know how much he would be paid and had not asked.
But he said it would be substantially less than he currently earns as an author, speaker and commentator on military and strategic affairs.
A spokesman for Mr Abbott said General Molan's pay was yet to be decided. Other people had been considered for the role.
General Molan had been given no promises of any job while he was advising on the Coalition's policies and had not suggested the role of envoy be created, the spokesman said.