Tony Abbott is Australia's new Prime Minister

Sydney, Australia

Australia's new prime minister has ditched his "Mad Monk" tag and softened his macho image to turn around his conservative party's fortunes and steered them towards a victory in Saturday's election.

Tony Abbott, a former trainee Catholic priest, boxing enthusiast and monarchist, has in the past been known as a political hard man of the Liberal Party, unafraid of speaking his mind and occasionally tripping up on a gaffe.

His election campaign has not been immune to verbal stumbles -- with his comments about one of his female candidate's "sex appeal" causing concern, along with his description of the conflict in Syria as "baddies versus baddies".

But the 55-year-old opposition leader, singled out by former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard as sexist in a fierce parliamentary tirade against misogyny, has rebuilt his image and it appears to have paid dividends.

"I've learnt that the best leaders are leaders who reach out to everyone and appreciate that if you are the PM of this country, you've got to be a PM for everyone, not just your side," he told reporters on Saturday, as he sharpens a more statesmanlike image.

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