Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares

The Opposition Leader at the National Press Club on Wednesday offered insights into how Canberra is seen from Planet Abbott.

He set out to be seen as a good bloke - which he is, no question about that - and pitch his credentials as a future prime minister.

Overall, the speech delivered nothing new - as planned - and was overtaken by the dramatic arrest of Craig Thomson.

Tony Abbott was prepared for this long-expected development and immediately declared the Thomson affair should be seen through the prism of the Prime Minister's judgment, thus setting the scene for next week's opening of Parliament.

The Opposition Leader's speech was a polished affair, aimed over the top of the Canberra audience at a wider audience which may not have heard his pledges, promises and platitudes before.

He delivered an impressive indictment of the government, while trying to stay ''positive''.

Abbott is a Rhodes scholar so it is painful to hear him engage in trite Canberra bashing, such as:

''As a cabinet minister, I often noticed how the public servants who were making the rules very rarely had to live under those rules themselves.''

''Treasury officials weren't in business, health officials never had to treat patients, education officials didn't run schools.''

This denigration of public servants is for consumption outside the territory - the Coalition has little hope of toppling the safe Labor seats here - but shows an unnecessary disrespect.

It's so fashionable to deride public servants - all bludgers until, that is, you need your parenting allowance or dole or instant cash hand-out after a flood.

What qualifications does any MP have for the job?

Abbott went on to say he admired the professionalism of the public service.

''They always get the job done … I respect them very much.''

So which is it?

Abbott prefers to go on radio to get to a wide audience, instead of subjecting himself regularly to questioning by the Canberra-based press gallery.

There was little indication this habit would change.