'Tony Time' euphoria for Abbott backers

Supporters of Tony Abbott at an election night function in Sydney on 7 September 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tony Abbott's supporters are ecstatic over his victory

"It's Tony Time" read the banner at the coalition victory party last night, as two glitzy-looking women encouraged the crowd to "gimme a T, gimme an O, gimme an N, gimme a Y" and then begged the question: "What have you got?"

The answer is Tony Abbott and with it a significant shift to the right, bringing an end to six years of an often dysfunctional Labor government.

"I am so pleased to see the Labor Party go down the gurgler," one woman told me, adding to my ever-expanding range of Aussie lingo.

"This is like the joy of a baby being born in the household," said a Sikh man, sporting a splendid blue turban.

"I want to jump 20 feet in the air," he went on, looking like he just might have it in him to do so.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tony Abbott has a far "blokeier" image than his intellectual and worldly rival

There is no doubt that on Saturday night - among his supporters, family and friends - Tony Abbott was feeling the love.

That is to be expected at his own party.

But speaking to voters in the run-up to this election you get the sense that the election result was not so much a ringing endorsement for Mr Abbott and his policies as a rejection of Labor.

I am not sure Australians have especially warmed to Mr Abbott. They have just had enough of the other lot.

By far the most common response I got when asking people who they were planning to vote for was along the lines of "I don't really like either of them much".

"It's a choice between dumb and dumber," a waiter at a cafe in central Sydney told me on polling day. I could not get him to say if it was Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott who got the bottom spot.

"If Tony Abbott wins, it will be a victory by default," Dr Peter Chen, who lectures in politics and media at the University of Sydney, told me a few days before the vote.

"Tony Abbott's great advantage is he's not Kevin Rudd or the leader of the Labor Party."

It would difficult to underestimate just how damaging the fighting within the Labor Party has been. It was only June when Mr Rudd ousted Labor rival Julia Gillard from the top job.

She performed a similar coup on him a few years ago and the accusations of mutual backstabbing have not sat well with voters.

Although the image of Australian politics around the world is of it being full of drama, gaffes and high jinx (us reporters do love to focus on a good gaffe), a lot of political commentators here will tell you this campaign was not terribly inspiring.

"It's the dullest I can remember," one veteran political reporter told me.

In part that was because Tony Abbott was able to play it relatively safe, knowing his long-standing lead in the polls meant he simply had to avoid making a game-changing blunder. It was always his race to lose.

One of the few stand-out moments was when I woke up in what seemed like a parallel universe to see Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd appearing in a cooking show called Kitchen Cabinet, just days before polling day.

Miraculously ABC's political journalist Annabel Crabb - who hosts the show - managed to get both to agree to be interviewed in separate episodes while at the same time preparing dinner.

Tony Abbott decided to do steak on the BBQ.

Kevin Rudd opted to prepare high tea.

One can only speculate at the degree of machinating the two men's spin doctors performed in order to come up with such menu choices.

But as one of my BBC colleagues succinctly put it: "This election comes down to steak versus scone."

The two men are certainly very different characters. Tony Abbott has a far "blokeier" image than the intellectual and worldly Mr Rudd.

Australia will wait to see what "Tony Time" brings.

For the Labor Party, I suspect it means a further period of introspection.

Although most supporters probably already know what went wrong. Disunity does not win elections.