CELEBRITY Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons and the city’s entire council face the sack following explosive bullying allegations. The state government is set to introduce legislation paving the way for it to fire the council, labelling it ‘’dysfunctional’’.
Former paparazzi king Lyons, who became mayor of his home town in a shock election result just two years ago, will lose the top job if parliament passes a vote to dismiss the council.
The Labor government does not command a majority in parliament’s Upper House, but sources say that once reports into the Geelong councillors’ behaviour become public it would be surprising if there were major resistance.
The government says the council’s performance has left no other choice but to sack it. Administrators would then be appointed until elections in October 2020.
Cr Lyons — who refused to relinquish his trademark mohawk hairdo or tone down his garish outfits, despite being mayor of Victoria’s second-biggest city — has previously blamed party politics for the position the council found itself in.
But a review of the council last year found shocking evidence of bullying, sexism and favouritism.
Former human rights commissioner Susan Halliday found council, and some councillors, were “aggressive, belligerent, threatening, disempowering, sexist, dogged, bombastic, arrogant, rude, spiteful, frightening, demeaning, belittling, objectified, exploitative, calculated, humiliating and intimidating”.
An independent commission was then set up. Its report, which recommends the council be sacked, will be tabled in parliament tomorrow.
Local government minister Natalie Hutchins said the council was letting Geelong down and there was no choice but to sack it.
“It is not a decision that has been taken lightly. The people of Geelong deserve better,” she said.
“The people of Geelong deserve better. The city is too important for it to be run by a dysfunctional council that is simply unable to work together.”
Government sources have dismissed as “conspiracy theories” allegations of political interference ahead of a federal election, saying the report will “speak for itself”.
The 100-plus page Commission of Inquiry report will be tabled before the Parliament about 1pm and recommends the whole council be sacked.
The State Government will then introduce a Bill, enabling it to dismiss the Geelong council for failure to provide good government.
The grounds for dismissal include:
A SERIOUS failure to provide good government with the council so dysfunctional it is unable to work together in the city’s best interests, with its standard well below that expected of a city of Geelong’s size and economic importance.
FAILURE to develop a long-term vision and strategic plan for the city.
FAILURE to properly respond to the Halliday report, which found deep flaws within the council.
Commissioners Terry Moran, Jude Munro and Frances O’Brien were appointed by the State Government late last year to oversee the Geelong council, following claims of a decade-long history of bullying.
In November, Ms Hutchins said the Government would “form a view” on the council’s future after reading the commissioners’ report.
She described the findings in Ms Halliday’s report as appalling.
Lyons has previously blamed party politics for the councils position.
“I’m no saint, no Mother Teresa, I’m sorry, but people knew that. People knew what they were getting when they voted for me to overcome their frustration and that’s exactly what I’ve been working to do,’’ he said on Saturdays.
Lyons has never been far from controversy, most recently coming under fire late last year for donning a demeaning t-shirt of a naked woman hitchhiking.
The former media mogul is world-renowned for being sued by high-profile celebrities including Lily Allen, JK Rowling, Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley for invasion of privacy and harassment.
Despite his run-ins with the who’s-who of show business, he hasn’t shied away from the public eye, appearing as a housemate on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother in 2011 where he unveiled a cosmetic “six-pack” implant.