WSJ.COM 9/9/13: Tony Abbott's victory in Saturday's Australian election is largely a referendum on the Labor government's disastrous carbon tax. But it's also a neat commentary on political correctness.
Australia's leftists declared the Abbott campaign dead on arrival in 2009 when the plain-talking member from Warringah took over the Liberal Party's reins. Mr. Abbott, a former Catholic seminarian, was too religious, too conservative and too blunt for urban elites, feminists and their media enablers.
"Libs make themselves a joke," the Sydney Morning Herald opined upon Mr. Abbott's ascension to the Liberal Party leadership. Then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard labelled him a "sexist" and "misogynist" in parliament and was largely given a pass for the slurs. (Mr. Abbott has been married for 25 years and has three daughters and an openly gay sister.) His opponents routinely derided Mr. Abbott as a "mad monk" for his religious beliefs.
None of which seemed to phase Australian voters, who came out in droves for Mr. Abbott and his Liberal-National coalition on Saturday, delivering the biggest drubbing to the left Down Under in a century. What gives?
As in most democracies, the Australian public will give political leaders a "fair go," no matter what media spin they're fed. Mr. Abbott laid out a coherent plan to revive the country's economy through a program of smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation. The local media bias couldn't hide the fact that the Labor Party didn't have much of a counterargument.
Nor are voters particularly concerned about the latest politically correct trends. Australians never bought into climate-change hysteria or Labor's fix, which Mr. Abbott dubbed (correctly) "a big fat tax."
Mr. Abbott in fact dropped a few un-PC zingers during the campaign. He said a local Liberal candidate had "sex appeal" (she won the seat). During a national debate with the prime minister, who is known for his verbosity, he asked: "Does this guy ever shut up?"
I interviewed Mr. Abbott in March in Sydney and came away with the same impression that voters did: What you see is what you get. For millions of Australians on Saturday, that was more than enough.