Mayor sorry for misleading voters, takes aim at media

Townsville mayor Troy Thompson

Source: Facebook

A north Queensland mayor accused of misconduct has apologised for misleading voters, blaming “100-plus” concussions for a poor recollection of his past.

However, Troy Thompson said he had no intention of stepping aside as Townsville mayor, despite a call from Queensland Premier Steven Miles for him to quit – and more looming trouble from his colleagues on the council.

The Townsville Bulletin was reporting on Friday that the city’s other councillors had “stood in solidarity” to launch a vote of no confidence in the mayor.

Thompson, however, accused the media of “morally poor” behaviour.

It follows the mayor being referred to Queensland’s corruption watchdog this week after he claimed during his successful mayoral campaign that he had served five years in the military, including with the SAS.

He had been challenged about his Australian Defence Force career since Anzac Day after he was unable to recall his service number.

In an interview with Nine Network’s A Current Affair on Thursday night, Thompson said he thought he had served five years when he had spent less than three.

“Look, I honestly, hand-on-heart, thought it was five years,” he told Nine.

“Those who know me know that I’ve had multiple concussions – 100-plus – and I suffer from epilepsy. That’s not an excuse but what it says is you’re going to forget things from time to time.”

Townsville is home to Lavarack Barracks, Australia’s largest army base.

Thompson would not concede he had embellished the truth during his campaign as he was adamant he had served five years until he received his official military records recently.

“I probably didn’t say it right pre-election, but I certainly spent some time with people from SAS. I’d never purport to be a soldier of the SAS,” he said.

On Friday, he said he now had second thoughts about initial plans to publicly release his defence dossier.

“I apologise to all services as well as veterans and Defence, and I think it’s important to put that out there because I respect the military,” he said.

Thompson also conceded he had not finished university, despite describing himself as a business graduate with two degrees.

“I started them off and then life changed – it was that simple,” he said.

On Friday, Thompson took a swipe at the media, including Nine’s report.

“I gave ACA the opportunity to report and have me tell my story, instead they wrote a story to create negativity,” he posted on Facebook.

Thompson’s lengthy post also featured pictures he claimed showed media outside his residence.

“When media circle your house, bang on your door, harass your family, friends, that is going too far for a story,” he posted.

“When they harass older family members of your family, that is a new level of low.

“I have these photos, the video of this, and it is morally poor, and those reporters should be ashamed of themselves.”

Thompson claimed media harassment of “people associated with me” had affected their mental health and led to some losing their jobs.

“There is a reason newspaper, and television media is on the decline,” he said.

“Negativity causes harm.”

Thompson won office in March, unseating Jenny Hill who had been mayor for 12 years.

Miles said on Friday that it was “hard to imagine how it’s in Townsville’s best interest for him to remain as mayor”.

“On the basis of what he has acknowledged he’s done, that would seem sufficient to me for him to stand down, in the interest of Townsville,” he said.

“Townsville is one of our biggest and most important cities, it can’t afford the uncertainty that’s going to come from a weak leader severely weakened by their admissions.”

But Thompson said he was proud of his achievement and had no plans to walk away.

“I have no intention to step aside as some of the naysayers would like,” he said.

“I will work incredibly hard to be transparent, and clear on our direction, and promote Townsville in the positive light it deserves.”

– with AAP

Topics: Queensland
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