A man of strong principle, a considerable communicator, written and oral, with a striking presence, it was evident years ago that Tony Abbott was destined to play a leading role in the nation’s affairs.
His latest book, Battlelines, confirms this. Launched on Tuesday, the book looks at the values and instincts that drive the Liberal Party. It proposes policy that the party should adopt, often controversially.
But on the great and fundamental issue, he retreats not one millimetre from his long declared support for the constitutional monarchy.
He points out that unless republicans can demonstrate that change will produce a better – or at least no worse –system of government, their cause is unlikely to prevail. Under either model, parliamentary or an elected president, the quality of the person who becomes head of state is likely to diminish.
He believes that even the McGarvie minimalist model, where a council of eminences replaces The Queen, is likely to produce a head of state more assertive than now, with the potential for political tension with the government.
He does not believe a republic, that is a politicians’ republic, is in any way inevitable. Republicans will never agree among themselves, and he suspects honest republicans will conclude Australia is not going to change and they might as well make the most of what we have, an ancient institution which has been well and truly Australianised.
The most obsessed will never accept this. Some opportunistically now say "Not in this reign". They forget that if this is true now , it was equally true in 1999.
All of Australia's great leaders, Labor and conservative have honoured and respected the Crown. Tony Abbott reminds us that the time will come again when men and women occuping the highest positions in the land will no longer seek to betray the oaths of allegiance they have so solemnly sworn.
Abbott is if anything a man of principle; when it comes to his fundamental beliefs he is a fearless and courageous warrior. Sir Robert Menzies – and John Curtin – would approve.