Health minister Sussan Ley has quit following a parliamentary travel expenses scandal.
The week-long saga began after it was revealed that she bought an $800,000 apartment on the Gold Coast while on a taxpayer funded trip.
She stepped aside from Cabinet on Monday while her spending was investigated.
Ley gave prime minister Malcolm Turnbull her resignation today, but maintains that she followed the rules and the ministerial code of conduct.
“Today I have made a personal decision to resign as minister for health, aged care and sport in the Turnbull government,” she said.
“The ongoing intense media speculation has made this an incredibly difficult week… The ongoing media coverage of politicians’ entitlements has been a diversion from the important agenda we all wish to advance at the start of this vital year for our nation and our region.
“Whilst I have attempted at all times to be meticulous with rules and standards, I accept community annoyance, even anger, with politicians’ entitlements demands a response.”
Turnbull said he would make an announcement next week regarding who would take up the ministerial role, but said senator Arthur Sinodinos would manage the portfolio in the mean time.
“I want to thank her for her service to the government,” Turnbull said.
He then went on to announce that an independent authority would be established to oversee parliamentary spending.
He said the government believes that the work expenses of parliamentarians, including ministers, should be administered and overseen by an independent agency.
“The Government believes that the work expenses of parliamentarians, including ministers, should be administered and overseen by an independent agency,” he said.
“An independent parliamentary expenses authority will be a compliance, reporting and transparency body. It will monitor and adjudicate all claims by MPs, senators and ministers, ensuring that taxpayers’ funds are spent appropriately and in compliance with the rules.”
“It will monitor all claims ensuring taxpayers funds are spent accordingly and within the rules.”
He said as part of the new system there will be monthly disclosure of spending, similar to a model used by the UK government.
“Australians are entailed to expect that politicians spend taxpayers money carefully,” he said.
“We should be as careful and accountable with taxpayers money as we possibly can be… we are dealing with other people’s money.
“We owe people the greatest transparency and the greatest reliability.”
Ley has been a member for the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives since November 2001, representing the Division of Farrer, New South Wales.
She was the assistant minister for education in the Abbott Government in 2013 before she was promoted to Cabinet in 2014 as the minister for health and minister for sport.
More to come.
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