Mayor urged to stand aside after no confidence vote

Fraser Barton |

Troy Thompson has taken a leave of absence as Townsville council voted for his removal.
Troy Thompson has taken a leave of absence as Townsville council voted for his removal.

A mayor in Australia’s biggest military city accused of misleading voters about his army service has taken a leave of absence amid calls for his removal.

But Troy Thompson insisted he was “still mayor” of Townsville despite his council colleagues voting unanimously for him to step down in north Queensland on Wednesday.

Premier Steven Miles and Opposition Leader David Crisafulli later joined calls for Mr Thompson to do the “right thing” and stand aside amid the misconduct probe.

Mr Thompson has been referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission over claims made during his mayoral campaign that he had served five years in the military.

He later conceded in an interview on Nine Network’s A Current Affair he had misled voters about his army record as well as his university studies, blaming “100-plus” concussions.

It sparked a no confidence council vote in Townsville, which is the country’s biggest garrison city boasting more than 15,000 defence force personnel.

Mr Miles told reporters in Townsville on Wednesday the government could not intervene during a misconduct probe.

However, he asked Mr Thompson to stand down over the “debacle”.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles
Steven Miles labelled the situation ‘a debacle’ and urged the mayor to stand down. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“This city is just too important. It needs to have a mayor that can serve them with honesty and 100 per cent dedication, and I think it’s clear just from what he’s admitted to that he can’t do that,” he said.

“If he cared about Townsville in the way that he said he did when he ran for election, then he would do the right thing by Townsville.

“The whole of Queensland has an interest in Townsville’s success and this debacle is a risk to that ongoing success.”

The premier found an unlikely ally in Mr Crisafulli who described Mr Thompson’s position as “untenable”.

Mr Thompson did not attend the council meeting at a packed chambers on Wednesday where his colleagues voted unanimously for him to step down.

The council will now write to Local Government Minister Meaghan Scanlon, asking her to suspend or dismiss Mr Thompson.

Mr Thompson later posted on Facebook that he would be taking leave and asked for privacy.

“I’m still mayor, just taking a break for mental health reasons and also allowing for the investigation to take place without further pressures,” he said.

Mr Thompson earlier claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt”, saying any effort to suspend him before the watchdog probe was completed would be political interference.

He also demanded an investigation into how the matter had been handled and called for the entire Townsville council to be dissolved if a conflict of interest was found.

Ms Scanlon said she was monitoring the situation and would consider any options available to her once the misconduct probe was completed.