Originally published in The Canberra Times on November 21, 2014

Tony Abbott was made for “drop and run” politics. 

A key part of media training for politicians, the “drop and run” is a smooth strategy for deflecting a question, promoting a three-word slogan and moving on to attack your opponent.

Dodge the query, never dwell on details, just drop your message and shift debate to the weakness of the other side.

As opposition leader, Tony Abbott employed the drop and run technique with brutal effect.  When asked how he would deliver election promises through a hostile senate, he’d respond with the ridiculous statement that he “would never do a deal with a minor party” before attacking the Gillard government for doing what he described as “dodgy deals” with the Greens. Drop and run.

While in opposition, Mr Abbott variously supported a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme and his direct action policy. He both described the science of climate change as “crap” and explicitly stated he believed humans were significant contributors to global warming. In a bout of refreshing honesty, he once described himself as “a bit of a weather vane” in climate change. A bit indeed.

But drop-and-run politics allows for such changes of heart. The technique is great for creating snappy sound bites and easy slogans to share through the social media sphere. But when used excessively, politicians risk oversimplifying complex scenarios and falling prey to short-term policy thinking.

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