By Luke Voogt
The Andrews Government has labelled Darryn Lyons “irrelevant” after he launched his campaign for the seat of Geelong last Friday.
Premier Daniel Andrews this week refused to answer questions about the candidacy of the man he sacked as mayor in 2016, instead delegating a government spokesperson to issue a brief statement.
“Darryn Lyons is completely irrelevant to our positive plans to make Geelong and our state an even better place to live and work,” the spokesperson said.
“Whether it’s ending the Liberal cuts at The Gordon TAFE, building and upgrading dozens of schools or creating thousands of local jobs, only Labor is delivering the strong future that the Geelong community deserves.”
The flamboyant businessman has been a vocal and scathing critic of the premier and government that sacked him with the rest of Geelong’s council in 2016.
State Government sacked the mayor citing bullying and dysfunctional governance, but Mr Lyons disputed the claims and described the sacking as political move to harm his reputation.
Mr Lyons will contest the seat of Geelong against Labor MP Christine Couzens, who he has also ruthlessly criticised.
Earlier this year, Ms Couzens lambasted Mr Lyons for his lawsuit against community radio station The Pulse for defamation, accusing him of hypocrisy in a speech to parliament.
Mr Lyons had referred “to others in his articles as gutless, gormless, pathetic (and) scumbags“, she told parliament.
Mr Lyons in turn accused Ms Couzens of hiding behind the “cowards’ castle” of parliamentary privilege.
With Labor leading the coalition by a tiny margin (51 to 49) in the most recent polls, the Victorian Election will likely go down to the wire in November.
Mr Lyons’ candidacy will shake up the previously safe seat, held by Labor since 1999.
If he or Liberal candidate Freya Fidge were to win the seat it could decide the outcome of the election.
The one-time Liberal member has declared he is “not a stooge” for the party but is yet to state his vote preferences.
At a recent press conference opposition leader Matthew Guy batted away questions about Mr Lyons’ preferences.
“I don’t think Darryn’s going in it to come second, I think Darryn’s going in to win it,” he said.
“I think Darryn’s got probably as good a chance as any if (he has) a good crack at it.”
Labor had underestimated the “huge amount of public support” for Mr Lyons, Mr Guy said.
“He’s very popular, he’s someone who is very pro-Geelong and if I wasn’t voting Liberal, I’d be having a look at Darryn Lyons.”