FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is giving up sex for Lent.
"Let's face it, it's almost impossible to have when you are on the campaign trail," says Mr Abbott, throwing back his head in a hearty laugh.
The federal Liberal politician most often criticised for his high Catholic morals looks only slightly mortified, in Launceston yesterday, relaxing after a morning of media engagements.
"And it is one of life's great pleasures," he adds.
Then he notices his media adviser and remembers where he is.
IMAGE GALLERY: TONY ABBOTT IN TASMANIA
"Claire's shaking her head," he says, still chuckling.
It's the journalist's fault - I asked the question.
The offer was 10 minutes with the new Opposition Leader at the end of his Launceston visit.
Ten minutes can hardly be called an exclusive but it's enough time for six searching questions, enough time to at least find out what he does before breakfast.
With the sex thing out of the way, Mr Abbott gets serious.
"It's actually a very good question," he says.
"When I was a schoolboy, my great Jesuit mentor, Father Costello, said that it was much better to do something positive in Lent than to give something up.
"And he said that we shouldn't have a hair shirt mentality where we were against the good things of life - we should have a heroic mindset where we went out to try to make the most of life."
Mr Abbott's Jesuit teacher counselled against giving up things like "lollies or chocolates".
"He'd say, `try to go to Mass more often during Lent'," Mr Abbott said.
At this moment in the Opposition Leader's life when he is away more than he is home, that advice is difficult to achieve.
"It literally is an incredibly packed schedule but if I wasn't where I am, that's probably the kind of thing that I'd try to do," he says.
We float back to the subject of home - or lack of it in a politician's life.
"Margie (his wife) said to me many years ago that since I had gone into politics, she had almost been a sole parent," he says.
"The non-political spouse just ends up doing far more of the domestic scene than would otherwise be the case because the politician is inevitably married to the world as much as he is married to his or her spouse.
"And inevitably there's a sense in which the electorate is your family as much as your own family."
All three of the Abbott children are still at home.
"Although home is starting to become more of a base than a permanent residence," he says.
He was last there with them last Thursday night - "briefly, lateish".
"Then I got home lateish again on Saturday night and I'll be home lateish on Friday night," he says.
The thing that never alters much - even during Lent - is his fitness regime.
"It basically involves getting up an hour or so earlier than you otherwise would," says the politician renowned for a body not embarrassing in "budgies".
"I go for a run, bike-ride, whatever and it doesn't matter whether I'm at home or not.
"The only difference is that if I'm at home or in Canberra, cycling is a possibility because I've got a bike, whereas in other places, it's basically got to be a run."
At the moment, the Opposition Leader is still "struggling" to read The Middle Parts of Fortune, by Frederick Manning.
"Struggling is not quite the right word," says this careful user of language.
"I'm enjoying it but I'm reading it two or three pages at a time.
"It's said to be the best Australian war novel of the First World War by an Australian who was in the British Army in the trenches."
He admits to music tastes that are "very middle of the road".
"Very sixties, you might say," he says.
"The Beach Boys were always my favourite - I guess in more recent times, Elvis and Roy Orbison featured more prominently."
We are eight minutes into the interview with one question to go.
Do you think, Mr Abbott, that your highly publicised high moral ground on particular subjects is a help or a hindrance?
"I really dislike this Captain Catholic tag that has been attached to me over the years," he says.
"The only one of the Ten Commandments that I am confident that I have not broken is the one about killing, and that's because I haven't had the opportunity yet," he adds with a grin.
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