With the death of Tony Eggleton AO CVO, the Liberal Party has lost a champion who left a remarkable legacy.
Few in the Liberal Party’s ranks have served so dutifully, so fully, and so meaningfully. He was not just a guiding hand, but one of the great Liberals.
Tony’s talents were well recognised and widely appreciated. Starting as a press secretary and finishing as a chief of staff, he was a steadfast staffer and admired adviser to Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton, Billy Snedden and Malcolm Fraser.
Testimony to the measure of the man, each leader confided in Tony, and Tony found ways to ignite confidence in each of his leaders.
His loyalty to his leaders and to the Liberal Party, coupled with a natural poise and political perception, saw him appointed as the Federal Director in 1975.
Over the course of 15 years in that role, the discerning, diligent, and dignified Tony served leaders Malcolm Fraser, Andrew Peacock and John Howard with aplomb. He was the national campaign director at seven federal elections.
For the British-born young reporter who ventured to Australia to pursue a career in journalism, it was not surprising that in his political life Tony was meticulous at keeping notes on events, including recording his own musings. They were drawn on by author Tom Frame who wrote a biography of Tony entitled A Very Proper Man. With the sad news of Tony’s death, this marvellous account of a man who didn’t just live Liberal Party history, but helped shape it, is sure to be revisited.
Tony will of course be remembered for his many other contributions to Australian public life, our nation, and international affairs: a founding member of the National Press Club; a Secretary General of CARE International; a member of the editorial board for the esteemed Foreign Affairs magazine; a man in his youth who helped run the show when Queen Elizabeth visited our shores in 1970; and the man of experience who was the show runner for our Centenary of Federation.
In the days and weeks ahead, so many in the Liberal Party will properly honour the life of this very proper man who was more than deserving of being named an Officer of the Order of Australia.
On behalf of the Federal Coalition, and the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party, I offer my condolences to Tony’s family and many friends in both his personal and political circles.
May he rest in peace.
22 May 2023