Embattled Health Minister Sussan Ley has agreed to repay the expenses of a taxpayer funded trip to the Gold Coast where she bought a $795,000 apartment and has apologised for the "error of judgement" in a statement on Sunday.
Ley said this followed a discussion with the Prime Minister where he agreed the claim did not meet the "high standards he expects of Ministers".
"While attending an auction was not the reason for my visit to Queensland or the Gold Coast, I completely understand this changed the context of the travel undertaken," Ley said.
"The distinction between public and private business should be clear as possible when dealing with taxpayers."
Why did a federal minister even have time on a work trip to buy a property? #sussanley— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) January 6, 2017
The Minister for Health and Aged Care said she will ask the Department of Finance to invoice her for the costs of the car and travel allowance claimed on Saturday 9 May 2015. Ley said she will ask the department to review all her ministerial travel to the Gold Coast.
The statement has been made days after revelations the Minister bought an apartment at Main Beach during a taxpayer-funded work trip that included announcing more than a billion dollars for new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at Wesley hospital.
Ley initially maintained the purchase was not "not planned nor anticipated" and "all travel undertaken was in accordance with the rules." But pressure mounted on the Member for Farrer after subsequent revelations the apartment was owned by a liberal donor and her partner owns a business close to where the purchased unit.
1- $12k jet to the Gold Coast— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 7, 2017
2- Buying apartment on taxpayer funded trip
3- ...from Liberal donor
4- ...just nearby hubby's business pic.twitter.com/GGrWJHJtaQ
Labor has been calling for Ley's resignation with the Opposition Health spokeswoman Catherine King saying the she bought the property the same week she signed her name to health cuts in the 2015 budget.
"These revelations make it crystal clear that Malcolm Turnbull must sack Sussan Ley," King 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."
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