Bendigo West Liberal candidate Jack Lyons quits

UPDATE 7pm: Bendigo Jockey Club chairman Brendan Drechsler is standing by Mr Lyons.

"Jack has made a significant contribution to the club since he was voted by the members to the committee in March,'' Mr Drechsler said.

UPDATE 5pm: Jack Lyons has released a second statement to the media about his contentious Facebook comments.

"I apologise unreservedly for the comments on my Facebook page, which were offensive and highly inappropriate," the statement reads.

"They were not intended to be disrespectful to anyone in any way and I apologise for any offence I may have caused.

"These comments were in a closed account and I do not know how they have surfaced.  

"Nevertheless, this is no excuse for their presence on my Facebook page at any time.

"I apologise to the people of Bendigo West.

"I deeply regret my actions and the embarrassment it has caused my family, friends and colleagues."

UPDATE 3.35pm: Monash University political scientist Nick Economou says voters have become immune to candidates becoming undone by comments on social media.

"I think voters are getting so used to prospective candidates having to fall on their sword due to something they've posted on social media that they're becoming a bit immune to it," he said.

"I think people are over it."

He said he didn't think the comments would have a great impact on the election, as people didn't pay much attention to local candidates.

But he said the incident was reflective of disarray within the Liberal Party.

He said candidates needed to be wary of social media.

"For goodness sake, grow up with all this social media stuff!" he said.

"If you are going to be a candidate keep your vile opinions to yourself - don't write them down!"

UPDATE 3.10pm: Bendigo Chinese Association president Charles Lougoon says Jack Lyons' comments about the Golden Dragon Museum are offensive.

"I assume it was said in jest but it is offensive to the Chinese community," Mr Lougoon said.

"There's no place for that sort of thing in politics and the Bendigo Chinese Association fully supports multiculturalism."

UPDATE 2.30pm: Candidate for Bendigo East Greg Bickley has confirmed party candidates will gather in Melbourne for a meeting tomorrow, but said it wasn't in reaction to Jack Lyons' comments.

"This is part of a regular candidates briefing that was scheduled at the start of the year - part of regular, scheduled meetings," he said.

He would not confirm whether Mr Lyons' social media comments would be discussed at the meeting.

"I'm not privy to the schedule of the meeting but I'll see when I get there," he said.

UPDATE 2.20pm: LIBERAL Party candidate for the seat of Bendigo East, Greg Bickley, says the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Jack Lyons as candidate for Bendigo West 'are certainly distressing for the Party, and for me'. 

"Bendigo is a great community that deserves the best possible representation in Parliament,'' he said.

"Jack Lyons' comments do not represent the views of party members, or Liberal supporters. There is no place in our society for offensive comments of this nature.

"I’m confident the Bendigo community will see through Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards’ attempts to score cheap political points from this matter.''

UPDATE 12.20pm: Jack Lyons says he is deeply embarrassed and apologetic for offensive posts on his Facebook page and did not intend to hurt anyone.

In a message sent to several media outlets, including the Bendigo Advertiser, Mr Lyons says the pages were removed from his Facebook page more than two years ago, but given to the Herald Sun yesterday.

"They were jokes not intended to offend anyone, I'm deeply embarrassed and apologetic and I've obviously rattled someone's cage,'' he said.

UPDATE: 11.50am: Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan says the views of the former candidate for Bendigo West are 'offensive, unacceptable and are out of step with the views of the Bendigo community'.

"Denis Napthine needs to apologise for backing a person to represent Bendigo who holds a disgraceful view of our city,'' she said.

"Mr Lyons’ comments regarding Bendigo has exposed the Liberal Party’s views on our city.'' 

"We know this is the attitude behind closed doors, we know this because they initially opposed a new hospital, the fast rail and Calder duplication. It is no wonder they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to finally support these things.

"The Liberal candidate for Bendigo East Greg Bickley needs to reveal what other discussions have occurred behind closed doors about Bendigo and why the Liberals have this antipathy for our city.

"Just like when Mr Bickley was campaigning to be Tony Abbott's man in Bendigo and saying there would be money to cut hospital backlogs, we now know that behind the scenes the Liberals were sharpening the knife and have cut $24 million from Bendigo hospital.

"What other anti-Bendigo discussions are the Bendigo Liberals having behind closed doors?''

Comment is being sought from Mr Bickley.

UPDATE 11.20am: The Centre for Non-Violence says Jack Lyons' comments are "harmful".

Chief executive Margaret Augerinos said sexist jokes should not be tolerated.

"What this reflects is a general belief that sexist jokes or jokes that make fun of women getting raped are not harmful," she said.

"If you think something is funny that reflects sexist or racist attitudes that is problematic.

"They're harmful in that they help perpetuate views that say (sexism) is okay."

Ms Augerinos said Mr Lyons' jokes about date rape were offensive.

"It is offensive and when you look at the statistics about violence against women in society it's really poor form to be making fun of that," she said.

"It demonstrates poor judgement."

Ms Augerinos said Mr Lyons made the right decision to step down from running as a candidate for Bendigo West.

She said elected officials should be held to a high standard.

The Herald Sun reported that Mr Lyons' had posted that a good pick-up line was, "Hey, does this rag smell like chloroform to you?" on Facebook.

UPDATE 10.10am: City of Greater Bendigo councillor Rod Fyffe says Jack Lyons' racist and sexist Facebook comments are "really disappointing".

"It's really disappointing that people make these comments and I hope everyone learns from this and are able to get along with each other," he said.

"The relationships we've got with the Chinese, we're working very hard with Indigenous people and Karen people who are coming in and we take pride in what they're achieving.

"We do get rushes to the head over comments like this but we need to take a deep breath.

"I hope it'll blow over very quickly."

UPDATE 9.55am: Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons says he is devastated and disappointed his son has 'cut his political career short'.

In a statement this morning, the mayor wrote:

“As parents, my wife Betty and I are disappointed and devastated.

'Jack's actions have cut his political career short. His comments and actions are not defendable.

'I'm sure no offence was intended or meant but Jack has recognised his mistakes and stepped down.'

Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons with wife Betty and son Jack earlier this year.

Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons with wife Betty and son Jack earlier this year.

UPDATE 9.45am: Councillor Mark Weragoda has declined to comment on Jack Lyons' social media comments.

UPDATE 9.27am: Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards said in a statement this morning she was "shocked and appalled" by Jack Lyons' social media comments.

"As I said in my maiden speech to Parliament, I have made it my life’s work to promote equality, tolerance and social justice. It is these values, these ethics, these principles that have guided me as the State Member for Bendigo West," the statement reads.

"I was shocked and appalled to read the comments made by the Liberal candidate for Bendigo West, Jack Lyons, on social media.

"These comments are sexist, racist and disgustingly vile.

"I am appalled that the Liberal Party saw fit to select this individual to contest election for public office.

"I am equally appalled that the State Director of the Liberal Party, Mr Mantach initially saw reason to defend this candidate. 

"The comments made are simply indefensible.

"What happens next is a matter for the Liberal Party.

"I will continue working hard for the people of Bendigo West and hope to be a part of an Andrews Labor government that will uphold my values, ethics and principles by putting people first in Victoria."

UPDATE TUESDAY 7am: The Napthine government has had a second candidate withdraw in less than a week, after the Liberal candidate for Bendigo West stood down following crude comments on social media.

Jack Lyons has withdrawn his candidacy for the marginal seat held by Labor's Maree Edwards over comments on his Facebook page.

Mr Lyons is the son of Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons.

Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach confirmed a Herald Sun report that Mr Lyons had withdrawn his candidacy.

Posts on Facebook from Mr Lyons, including him saying Bendigo was “needing an enema” and labelling its Golden Dragon Museum “ching chong gardens”.

On one post he laughed at African poverty, asking why people lived in mud huts and had to walk “5 miles everyday for water ... why not build the f---ing huts closer to the f---ing water”.

He also posted that a good pick-up line was “Hey, does this rag smell like chloroform to you?”

His resignation follows the withdrawal of Liberal Aaron Lane over offensive posts on Twitter. Labor's Helen Constas has withdrawn over bullying claims.

- Richard Willingham, The Age

UPDATE 9.45PM: The Liberal Party is calling on candidates to check if they have any undeclared social media pages following Jack Lyons' shock resignation, according to a Herald Sun journalist. 

Liberal candidate for Bendigo West Jack Lyons quit on Monday after a number of offensive and sexist posts were found on his Facebook page.

Posts alluded to Chinese and African culture, objectification of women and pornography, as well as statements about Bendigo. 

The social media fiasco comes just days after Victorian Liberal candidate Aaron Lane resigned following crude comments he made online. 

Premier Denis Napthine called on Mr Lane to stand down after it was revealed he made offensive comments on Twitter before he was preselected.

Mr Lane used derogatory terms such as "faggots"; he also said "the problem is (IMO) many homos make their sexuality a defining aspect of their being."

UPDATE 9.20PM: Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards has declined to comment regarding Liberal candidate Jack Lyons' resignation today. 

Mr Lyons quit after a number of offensive and sexist posts were found on his Facebook page.

Mr Lyons was contesting Ms Edwards' seat; there is now no Liberal or National candidate for Bendigo West. 

The state election is only four months away. 

UPDATE 8.40PM: The Herald Sun has reported that Jack Lyons has resigned in disgrace after party officials were told of hundreds of offensive sexist and racist posts on his Facebook page.

Liberal Party State Director Damien Mantach confirmed Mr Lyons had withdrawn his candidacy.

"The majority of the comments were written as jokes and posted in a closed Facebook page some years before he became a member of the Liberal Party," he said.

"However, Mr Lyons acknowledges the comments are juvenile and offensive. 

"He has apologised unreservedly."

EARLIER: Speculation surrounds the candidacy of Jack Lyons for the seat of Bendigo West. 

The Facebook page and twitter account for the Liberal candidate have been removed and his official website is no longer operational. 

The Build a Better Bendigo website, launched by the Premier only days ago, has also been taken down. 

Jack Lyons announced his intention to run in January this year. 

“I just believe Bendigo West needs some strong representation,” he said at the time.

“I’m passionate about Bendigo West and the surrounding region.”

Mr Lyons, 41, was born in Lancefield and moved to Bendigo at age nine.

He has been contacted for comment. 


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