POLITICS

Sussan Ley Bought A Gold Coast Flat While On A Taxpayer Funded Trip

It was a $795,000 impulse buy, apparently, while on official business.

06/01/2017 12:21 PM AEDT | Updated 06/01/2017 5:13 PM AEDT

What's the best impulse buy you've ever made? Maybe a holiday or airfare that was going cheap, or that new pair of jeans you saw in the window of your favourite boutique, or a new bit of technology you just couldn't resist.

Well, federal health minister Sussan Ley puts you all to shame, after it was revealed she bought a $795,000 apartment on the Gold Coast in a sale that was "not planned nor anticipated" while she was on a taxpayer-funded trip in 2015.

Alarm bells are ringing over Ley's conduct while on the taxpayer's dime, amid reports the nearly-$800,000 investment property was purchased from a Liberal National Party donor.

This is just the latest controversial incident involving the Member for Farrer. Earlier this week, the Herald Sun revealed Ley had chartered a private jet from Canberra to the Gold Coast, at a cost of $12,000, to attend meetings because commercial flights were not "appropriate" for her schedule.

The Herald Sun also revealed on Thursday that Ley had bought a $795,000 property on the Gold Coast while she was there on a trip that included announcing more than a billion dollars for new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at Wesley hospital.

Records show Ley purchased the apartment during the trip, for which she also brought her partner along, but her office tried to downplay the controversy by saying the purchase was not planned in advance -- that is, that the federal health minister just casually laid down nearly $800,000 on an impulse.

"The property purchase was not planned nor anticipated," Ley's office said in a statement.

"All travel undertaken was in accordance with the rules."

The Herald Sun reported Ley also claimed nearly $270 in chauffeur car expenses while on the trip, and reported it was not clear whether she had used this chauffeur car to finalise the purchase of the apartment.

Labor members have jumped on the revelations.

Ballarat MP and opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said Ley needed to provide more information.

"Sussan Ley needs to front up today and explain to Australians how purchasing a luxury apartment is considered to be "official business"," she said in a statement.

"If she cannot do this, she has no choice but to resign, or Malcolm Turnbull must move her off his front bench. Sussan Ley's explanation that the purchase "was not planned nor anticipated" is woefully inadequate and an insult to Australians."

"These are serious allegations - that in the same week as she signed her name to yet more health cuts in the 2015 Budget, Sussan Ley was using taxpayer funds to fly her and her husband to sign a luxury property purchase."

The revelations about Ley's travel come as the government is embroiled in controversy for the Centrelink saga which is sending innocent people debts and claiming they have been incorrectly claiming welfare payments, and as a clampdown on aged pensions begins.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce defended Ley on ABC TV on Friday.

"We don't concoct a $1.3 billion medical announcement. She was there for work and she had other reasons to," he said.

"The fact that this happened concurrently was not the reason she was there. She went there for a $1.3 billion announcement, and that's part of your job, that's what you do."


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