By NOEL MURPHY
THE political battle for South Barwon has erupted with incendiary salvos between sitting Liberal MP Andrew Katos and Labor contender Andy Richards.
Mr Katos labelled the Geelong councillor a puppet of unions for publicly criticising new Mayor Darryn Lyons over a first-100-days pamphlet a week after local Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden attacked him on separate issues.
Mr Katos said Cr Richards was at the beck and call of the labour movement.
His attack on the mayor showed Labor was anxious about Cr Lyons’ potential as a future state or federal political candidate, Mr Katos said.
“It’s no coincidence Cr Richards takes his instructions from the unions, he’s a former metal worker union employee and did a stint at the CFMEU – he takes his instructions from them,” he said.
“Up until Trades Hall got into a fight with the mayor he’d kept quiet, hadn’t said a word. But he’s a puppet of the unions and will do what they tell him to do.”
Mr Katos said Cr Richards should instead criticise unions for “almost caveman-like” thuggery and intimidation.
Cr Richards said in response that Mr Katos was starting panic ahead of November’s state election, avoiding “real issues” such as public transport, education cuts and inadequate parking Waurn Ponds’ new train station.
“Maybe this is just to divert attention from the number of jobs lost in Geelong on Andrew Katos’s watch.
“South Barwon has not heard much from Mr Katos in three and a half years. I guess when you’re a member of a Liberal State Government going this badly, you’re going to start to panic.”
Cr Richards said his criticism of Cr Lyons’ report was simply a request to “represent the city in a bipartisan way in this election year”.
“That’s not too much to ask,” he said.