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What is Geelong's mayor doing?

Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons in a tourism video posted on YouTube this week.

Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons in a tourism video posted on YouTube this week.

Perhaps it was simply a terrible case of poor timing. But it's hard to ignore the awkward, tasteless juxtaposition of a bizarre video featuring Geelong's flamboyant mayor, Darryn Lyons, with the latest sombre announcement of hundreds of job losses in the heart of his constituency this week.

The sight of a city mayor leaping about shirtless in a pool shouting to “hash tag” everything from Geelong to his own “abs” in a bid to win a conference for the region, lacks dignity and leaves Lyons open to be labelled a buffoon.

These are not the tags that Geelong ratepayers – of which I am one – want their mayor labelled with as he leads the town through the largest body blow it has received since the collapse of the Pyramid Building Society in the 1990s. With thousands of jobs expected to go from Ford, Alcoa, Qantas’s Avalon operation and possibly Shell, plus a resulting shockwave throughout the community that supplies these industries, it’s possibly Geelong’s darkest ever day.

Lyons has always been by his own admission “a bit different”, which is perhaps understating the disposition of a man who favours pink or bleach-blond hair shaped into a mohawk, flashy clothes and mirrored sunglasses, and formerly ran one of the world's top paparazzi agencies in London.

Popularly elected to the Geelong mayoralty late last year, he polarises opinion in his home town like little else. And the video, which hit the internet in a clear attempt to spur a viral tourism campaign, will only deepen that schism.

In an interview with Channel Seven's Sunrise program earlier this week he says he will “do anything as long as it's all about Geelong” and espouses the tourism value of drawing a major conference on social media to the town.

In media interviews recorded since Alcoa confirmed its long-expected withdrawal of the region and axing of 800 jobs, Lyons plays a straighter bat, assuring Nine's The Today Show that “this mayor hasn't had much sleep, without question”.

He speaks of urgent meetings with the Prime Minster and the Federal Industry Minister, a “rocky” 18 months ahead, and of his confidence that a new wave of technology-driven growth will guide the region to a new prosperity.

“It's not about getting your picture in the paper, it's about making decisions, and the right decisions are absolutely crucial for the entire Australian economy going forward,” he told Today.

I couldn't agree more with you, Mayor Lyons. And personally, I really don't care what colour your hair is if you get results. In times of crisis a community looks to its leaders for action and inspiration and needs to be reassured by the gravitas with which they conduct themselves.

What I fear, though, is that “do anything” stunts like this video – produced and promoted on YouTube by the region's peak tourism body – will irreparably damage the Geelong community's confidence in your ability as a leader and lateral thinker, costing valuable traction as it tries to climb out of an abyss.

It's hard to perceive the pool video as anything much more than a shallow (pardon the pun) exercise in self-promotion. Will he put the needs of Geelong over his own personal need to be loved – remember, he has also starred in a reality TV show for which he had a fake set of abdominals surgically inserted – when it's needed?

Lyons' video stunt might win him the conference, but there's so much more at stake here and it needs to be taken very seriously.

129 comments

  • I don't recognise this mayor, no credibility...he's a shame on us all and an impostor. China will need to provide a decent, educated human being to take over this shamble...Pronto!

    Commenter
    Disgusted
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 19, 2014, 4:54PM
    • me think he is clever man cause he have nice hair.

      Commenter
      harry
      Location
      geelong
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 6:29PM
    • You would think that Harry.....Because you live in the most obese city in Australia, most boring city in Australia and the most intellectually morose city in Australia.....for those in Geelong who do not understand any of that, it is the bogan capital of Australia!

      Commenter
      Dean
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 8:11PM
    • The Geelong Advertiser is the enemy of Geelong - It fuels the small-minded outlook of the town.

      For those uninitiated, imagine a small-town version of the Herald Sun with only 25 pages. Half of it is dedicated to the Cats footy club, 25% to crime in the northern suburbs, 10% to stories about scantily clad young ladies who are 'enjoying the sun', 10% to local politics and the remainder to 'World News', which is usually a sexual scandal of some sort.

      Unfortunately, it is the 'Voice of Geelong' and launches people like Darren Lyon into the spotlight as local heroes - for what? Surreptitiously photographing celebrities?

      Get rid of the Addy and it might have some hope - Otherwise, no chance.

      Commenter
      JTHoojer
      Location
      Ex-Geelong
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 8:54PM
    • Dean - nice work on proving you know bugger all about what this article is talking about. Don't attack people just because they are different. Geelong has produced some amazing people, and yes sadly some people who we wish didn't rock the boat so much, the same people that push ideas and make change good or bad. Without would we fail to grow. Like them or not Geelong people are a key part of what makes this area of Victoria so good.
      As a person who had grownp in Geelong, I honestly believe Mayor Lyon will be an improvement on the last lot in charge at town hall who stole all the towns money. Keep up the good work Mayor Lyon!

      Commenter
      Nick
      Location
      Highton
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 9:36PM
    • Nick - I was referring to the comment by Harry, not the article. My comment on obesity is fact. My opinion on how boring and moronic the place is my opinion based on personal experience. I think the place needs more than a pink haired bogan with surgically enhanced abs to make it a better place!

      Commenter
      Dean
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 11:34PM
  • Moronic beyond belief. No wonder we're a basket case.

    Commenter
    Pierre
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    February 19, 2014, 4:58PM
    • Stupid people, arrogant and ignorant, voting in stupid people......the outcome is not going to be good.
      Pray for Geelong. Pray for Australia.

      Commenter
      Tadd
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 7:58PM
    • The only reason Darryn Lyons got the job was because he had the support of LNP members Robert Doyle and Denis Napthine who came down to Geelong to campaign for him, because of his links to the Liberal party he also got the full support of Rupert Murdoch's Geelong Advertiser that had his picture on the front page every second day while all the other candidates were tucked away in a group on page 10 or 12, it was Baillieu who changed things in Geelong to have a directly elected Mayor so the Liberals could get one of their own in there, most people in Geelong would prefer to have the councillors elect the Mayor themselves like they used to.

      Commenter
      Bushy
      Location
      Cressy
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 9:22PM
  • So this article was written by the Style editor, whose main concern seems to be a youtube video playing on the mayor's image.

    Admit it - it IS the hair, isn't it?

    Commenter
    Dirk Bottoms
    Location
    Fawkner
    Date and time
    February 19, 2014, 5:00PM

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