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EDITORIAL: Cooling off Down Under

Australia elects a tough guy against taxes and global-warming scams

- - Thursday, September 12, 2013

A year before Americans sent Ronald Reagan to the White House, the British rejected the frazzled Labor Party and embraced the opposition led by Margaret Thatcher. Her upset victory demonstrated to the world that principled conservatism resonates with the public and wins elections. This has happened again, this time in Australia, where voters over the weekend dumped the big-spending, big-government Labor Party in favor of the Liberal Party, which is "liberal" in the classical sense.

Australia's Liberal Party ran on lower taxes, less spending and stronger borders. It's the opposite of Australian Labor's Obama-style campaign from 2007 that was built on exploiting the global-warming scam to impose emissions trading, new taxes on the country's prosperous mining industry and enactment of a carbon-dioxide tax. Some weak-willed Australian "conservatives" went along with the schemes lest they be labeled as out-of-touch.

Once in office, Labor ramped up the war on affordable energy, imposing a 30 percent "excess profits" mining tax on coal. The carbon-dioxide tax sent electricity rates on seniors, the poor and the middle class skyward, with the average family expected to pay an extra $3,000 over the next six years. Under the weight of the new tax burden, the economy slowed to a crawl.

In came Tony Abbott, the leader of the conservative opposition. Unlike many of his squishy colleagues, Mr. Abbott wasn't afraid to declare the election a "referendum on the carbon tax," and voters responded enthusiastically. "The carbon tax is an act of economic self-harm that unnecessarily adds to the cost of living," Mr. Abbott's platform proclaimed.

Going along with the flow isn't always the safest thing to do. For the past five years, Republicans here have stood on the sidelines, watching government grow ever larger, afraid to take bold and necessary steps against the rising tide of unchecked liberalism for fear of losing the next election. As Messrs. Abbott, and Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher before him, demonstrated, voters crave forthright leadership. The greatest threat to America is not a carbon-dioxide tax, but the looming implementation of Obamacare, which begins Oct. 1. The question is whether House Republicans will heed the lessons of history and muster the courage to say "no" when it matters most.