Darryn Lyons: Australia's 'Mr Paparazzi' faces sack as mayor
Flamboyant Australian mayor and ex-paparazzo Darryn Lyons and his entire council are expected to be sacked.
The Victoria lower house has passed a bill to sack Geelong City Council after a report alleged endemic bullying, poor leadership and incompetence.
The bill must now pass the Victoria upper house, where the government does not hold the balance of power.
Mr Lyons said the move was "shutting down democracy" and denied claims of dysfunction within his council.
"It's business as usual, as far as I'm concerned [and] I will be going about my business loud and proud," he told Melbourne's 3AW radio.
The Commission of Inquiry into Greater Geelong City's report alleged that Mr Lyons verbally abused staff using profane language, sometimes within earshot of other employees.
The report said that stressed mayoral staff were moved to separate offices in the council building, which prompted Mr Lyons to threaten the council's chief executive officer with a defamation suit should allegations of bullying emerge.
"There is a deep-seated culture of bullying not only within the council itself, but also within council administration," the report said.
In an incident that did not involve Mr Lyons or other councillors, a manager allegedly frightened a pregnant staff member by cutting holes in a wall with an axe after she asked for ventilation.
The bill to sack the council was introduced by Labor's Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins.
Mayor's flamboyant past
Mr Lyons accused Labor of playing "party politics", but Ms Hutchins said there was no choice but to sack the council.
"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," she said in a statement.
Ms Hutchins said parliament would be asked to dismiss the council until elections in October 2020 to "ensure a fresh start", with an administrator brought in to run its affairs.
Mr Lyons, who branded himself Mr Paparazzi, attained a modest level of celebrity in Australia and the UK through his photography agency and television appearances.
He was widely ridiculed after revealing on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother that a surgeon had "body sculpted" his six-pack of abs through a surgical procedure.
He returned to his hometown of Geelong in the Australian state of Victoria after his picture agency, Big Pictures, went into administration in the UK.
He was elected mayor of Geelong in 2013.