Geelong council sacked over dysfunction

The Geelong council has been sacked and ratepayers will go to the polls next year.


A Bill dumping the regional council passed the Legislative Council on Thursday evening, after the government agreed to bring an election forward by three years.

The Andrews government originally wanted to boot the council on Tuesday and keep administrators in place until 2020.

The Liberals, Greens and Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons all said not re-electing a council until then was undemocratic.

“I was here to fight to get democracy as soon as possible restored in Geelong,” Mr Lyons told reporters on the steps of parliament on Thursday afternoon.

The independent Commission of Inquiry report that sparked the dismissal debate did not recommend a next election date.

The report aired abuse allegations involving Mr Lyons and other councillors.

It said Mr Lyons threatened to close down a local business after yelling at their staff, then later told investigators he did not remember the interaction.

A council manager reportedly took to a chemicals shed with an axe, after a pregnant worker had asked for some ventilation.

The embattled mayor went to parliament on Thursday for a meeting with Upper House crossbench MPs.

Following the meeting, Mr Lyons conceded a dismissal was on the radar.

“I always said I would make mistakes, right at the start before I was elected, and I think every elected member through those doors makes them far (more) often than I do,” he said.

The former paparazzi king said he was proud of his achievements in Geelong.

That included having “the greatest Christmas tree in not just Victoria but in Australia”.

He maintained he was bullish, but not a bully.

Mr Lyons did not rule out returning to politics when another election was held.

Earlier on Thursday, Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins said the behaviour in Geelong was appalling and action needed to be taken.

“We’ve been very decisive in this,” she said.