Former defence chief Peter Cosgrove has long been a front runner for the role of Australia's next governor-general, and those who know him say he is a ''unifying figure'' who has remained ''controversy free''.
But the ink appears to not yet be dry on his appointment, with a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's Office saying on Thursday: ''No decision has been made yet. An announcement will be made in due course as per the usual process.''
Responding to questions from Fairfax Media on Friday, General Gosgrove would not comment on the media speculation and he would not be drawn on questions regarding his ongoing roles as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University or on the board of Qantas.
News Corporation reported on Thursday that General Cosgrove had been appointed, although said it had yet to be finalised.
Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said in Melbourne on Thursday that General Cosgrove, who led the international peacekeeping mission to East Timor, would be ''an excellent candidate'' but added: ''I'm sure there are other people also who could do the job well.''
In April, in response to speculation he wanted to appoint former prime minister John Howard to the role, Mr Abbott said he believed former military leaders and former judges made the best vice-regal appointments.
The national convener of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy David Flint said General Cosgrove would make ''an ideal appointment'' to the role.
If appointed, General Cosgrove, who served as chief of the Defence Force from 2002 to 2005, would be Australia's 26th governor-general and would play a prominent role in the 2015 centenary of Anzac Day.
Born in Sydney, General Cosgrove, 66, fought in Vietnam, where he earned the Military Cross in 1971.
He is on the board of Qantas and is the NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council chairman. He has served on the board of the Australian War Memorial and as a director of the Australian Rugby Union.
He was Australian of the Year in 2001 and has a Townsville suburb named after him for his role in the Cyclone Larry relief effort.
James Brown, military fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, said General Cosgrove's ''excellent communication skills'', including his direct manner and ability to converse with people from all walks of life, stood him apart from other senior military figures.
Mr Brown said General Cosgrove is ''quite a unifying figure'' who is ''pretty controversy free''.
''I think military people make good governors-general because they are used to being apolitical, which is very important in this role,'' he said.
John Blaxland, a senior fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, who served under General Cosgrove in East Timor, said: ''I suspect he has been intellectually preparing himself for the role.''
with Marcus Strom