Federal health minister Sussan Ley will stand aside after it was revealed that she bought a property while on a taxpayer-funded trip to the Gold Coast.
Last week Ley confirmed she bought an apartment for $795,000 – which she described as an “impulse buy” – while on the Gold Coast in May 2015 after she travelled to Brisbane for an announcement at Wesley Hospital about funding to list medicines on the PBS.
On Sunday afternoon Ley said she has always sought to apply “higher standards” for herself in using taxpayers’ funds and will pay for the travel costs incurred on that trip, and any penalties for erroneous claims, as well as two other claims an examination of her travel records brought to her attention.
This morning news broke that Ley will stand aside without pay until an investigation into her travel claims is complete.
“I am very confident (investigation will find) it was in the rules,” Ley said at a press conference in Albury.
“It was agreed in a mutual conversation (with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull).”
She maintains that she has not broken the rules and that she still has the faith of her electorate of Farrer.
She also has support from former speaker Bronwyn Bishop who said, “I am not going to be someone who judges her.”
“She should not be attacked like people behaving like a pack of dogs,” she said on Sky News.
“I do know that there are socialists out there who want to attack free enterprise and anyone who sticks up for it.
“I know that socialists, like alcoholics, will blame anyone but themselves.
“Whereas alcoholics can damage their own family, socialists can destroy the whole country.”
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) January 9, 2017
Not that it carries a lot of weight with the electorate. Bishop’s own political career ended following an expenses scandal which revealed she chartered a helicopter for a journey which would take an hour by car.
In September, Labor’s front bench lost Sam Dastyari after he admitted to getting an education company with close links to the ruling Chinese communist government to pay his travel expenses.
Senator Arthur Sinodinos will step in as minister for health, and minister for sport while Ley’s purchase is investigated.
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed that the secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet will thoroughly investigate the travel claims.
“The minister has assured me that she will promptly provide all information and assistance sought by the secretary for the purpose of this investigation,” he said.
“Australians expect the government to deal with these serious matters very thoroughly and in accordance with the Statement of Ministerial Standards.
“I expect the highest standards from my ministers in all aspects of their conduct, and especially the expenditure of public money.”
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