In 2004, I stood as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Candidate for the federal electorate of Fairfax (Qld). As a political campaign it was fairly ordinary and I didn't appear from an observer's perspective to have much hope in a very conservative electorate. However, there were still a number of factors which could possibly render me a slight chance to win the election against a very poor under-performing Liberal Party sitting member. The Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, was on a roll, with the public very tired of John Howard's Government. I'd also become a very well known political figure on the Sunshine Coast due to my role as a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of the Sunshine Coast and a prominent and outspoken political commentator. I was also well known in my field for my research into terrorist and revolutionary and separatist Islamic movements in Asia and elsewhere. In the 1980s, I had spent considerable time in the field researching the Moro National Liberation Front, and the Communist New People's Army in the Philippines. Both insurgent movements were fighting against the US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. I researched the question of an alliance between these normally bitterly and deadly opposed groups. During that era, I also spent time in Nicaragua researching the US-backed Contra war against the Sandinista Revolutionary Government. I was able to incorporate such PhD research in the Philippines, Nicaragua and elsewhere into my very successful internationally selling book 'Rolling Back Revolution'. I was also a very prominent academic in the Pacific and President of the Pacific Island Political Studies Association (PIPSA).
Earlier that Year (2004), I also had finished my book titled 'Eye of the Cyclone - Issues in Pacific Security' which was launched by ALP identity Kevin Rudd, who later became an electoral confidante.
Molloy & Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd launches Ivan Molloy's book
As the election campaign continued, in view of my public standing and achievements I began to look very competitive against my Liberal opponent. However, my election campaign was soon derailed quite dramatically by a number of crucial - even sinister, developments.
My very vocal and very public opposition to the US-led war in Iraq saw me and my former wife, Cate Molloy, a State MP for Queensland, publicly ridiculed by my political opposition and the Murdoch Press. However, unfortunately for me, my own party, the ALP, appeared to lose its nerve on this issue and did not publicly support my stance despite often condemning the war in the past. Latham and his 'minders' appeared scared of alienating the Murdoch Press and provoking a debate with PM Howard on this issue.
Me, A Terrorist Sympathiser?? Hardly??
Mark Latham and Dr Ivan Molloy
As the campaign advanced it soon became clear to all that I would speak my mind on issues and not be gagged by the Party which seemed to be in fear of Prime Minister John Howard's tactics and the Murdoch Press. As such, it also became clear that I was made a specific target of a vicious right wing dirt campaign waged by my political opponents. My opponents, rumored to be from a Liberal Party 'dirt' team, released a copy of a photo (1983) from a Monash University publication to the media. It portrayed me holding a machine gun in the company of Muslim Separatists in the Southern Philippines. A hysterical media frenzy immediately erupted with journalists and opposition politicians all branding me Molloy a terrorist sympathiser and demanded I be sacked as a candidate. All refused to admit the truth that the photo was taken when I was undertaking PhD research in the Southern Philippines into the question of a possible alliance between the Islamic separatist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the communist New People's Army (NPA). Normally deadly enemies, both groups were fighting the US-backed corrupt dictator, President Ferdinand Marcos at the time. My PhD research work was later published as 'Rolling Back Revolution' by Pluto Press. The photo actually showed me armed with an M16 in the company of my bodyguards who were not Muslim guerrillas at all. It was purely "a photo for the kids", I argued. The end result was: I was falsely accused, seemingly tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion, shaped by a media pack of unethical, sensationalist-driven journalists apparently happy, it appeared, to pursue and promote prejudice, dishonesty, bigotry and ignorance. As a consequence I paid the ultimate price politically.
As it turned out much of my political plight was also due to the fact that the ALP silenced me from speaking out in the media to defend myself over this issue. The ALP hierarchy promised me it would publicly argue the truth for me. It never did. Latham instead chose to marginalize me from the campaign. Latham was running scared from Howard and therefore by making a joke of my campaign 'hung me out to dry', which to me was an incredible travesty of justice.
Another Ivan Milat? We Don't Think So!!
The Real Ivan Milat
To add further insult to injury, Mark Latham also labeled me - 'Ivan Milat' (the brutal serial-backpacker killer) in the media, but claimed it was just a slip of the tongue. It was brutal ridicule and some would say it was done on purpose to further marginalize me and hurt my credibility. Thus with my political and academic reputation in tatters, I quit the Labor Party, but not until after the election wherein to the surprise of all I actually increased Labor's vote by 2% in my electorate, while Labor's vote dropped by 2% across the board.
A 'Rogue's Gallery' of journalists - perhaps?
After their apparent rush to condemn me, some questions need to be asked about the journalists listed here. Were they 'maybe just mistaken' about me, or perhaps they just didn't do adequate competent independent research about my work? Or, some might ask, were they simply acting like sensationalist, unethically biased opportunists - and therefore a disgrace collectively to their profession? You be the judge.
This list of possibles includes John Laws, Mat Price, Andrew Bolt, Steve Lewis, Derryn Hinch, Matthew Franklin, Piers Akerman, Maxine McKew, and others - not to mention the members of Howard's 'Political Dirt Team'.