Federal Minister buys Main Beach, Gold Coast apartment while on official business

Federal Minister buys Main Beach, Gold Coast apartment while on official business
Federal Minister buys Main Beach, Gold Coast apartment while on official business
The 2015 purchase of a Gold Coast apartment has become a political issue overnight since the minister Sussan Ley charged taxpayers thousands of dollars for a trip to Queensland with her husband during which she bought a $795,000 Gold Coast investment property.
 
Annika Smethurst, the national politics reporter at the Herald Sun, wrote that Sussan Ley charged taxpayers thousands of dollars for a trip to Queensland with her husband during which she bought a $795,000 Gold Coast investment property wrote that government documents reveal in May 2015.
 
It was after attending Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital to announce $1.3 billion in funding to list new medicines and vaccines being added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, that Ms Ley went to Main Beach on May 9.

She billed taxpayers $370 on her travel allowance to stay the night on the Gold Coast with her partner, on the same day she bought the ocean-view apartment which had previously traded at $830,000 in 2006 when bought by an Ipswich investor, Martin Corkery.

It was bought in her name on May 9.

The two bedroom, two bathroom apartment is a 149 sqm apartment on the eighth floor in the 31 storey early 1980s complex De Ville.

It had been listed for Ray White auction by estate agent Anna Jones.

Ms Ley confirmed to the Herald Sun the property was bought during the trip, which she declared was for “official business”.

She said the apartment purchase “was not planned nor anticipated”.

“All travel undertaken was in accordance with the rules,” a spokeswoman for Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley’s spokeswoman said the couple had travelled to the Gold Coast because the minister had “stakeholders to meet with” although Ms Ley’s office would not provide the Herald Sun with a list of these people. 

Ms Ley’s spokeswoman said the minister’s partner had been invited to accompany her to a function in Sydney the ­previous evening.

Federal Minister buys Main Beach, Gold Coast apartment while on official business

“He then travelled with the minister to Queensland under family travel arrangements.

“The EMB (Entitlements Management Branch) was consulted at the time to confirm Ms Ley’s partner’s travel was within the rules,” she said.

In total, the couple claimed $3949 in flights for the 48-hour trip from her Glenroy, regional NSW base.

The paper noted Ms Ley’s office would not confirm whether the investment property had been negatively geared.

The Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King says Ms Ley owes taxpayers a better explanation.

“Sussan Ley needs to front up today and explain to Australians how purchasing a luxury apartment is considered to be official business,” Ms 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.” Ms Ley must reveal which stakeholders she met with on the Gold Coast, if a government car was used to facilitate the real estate deal, and how an opportunity to spontaneously buy property arose during a work trip, Ms King said.

There were more than 750 comments by readers by late morning on the Herald Sun website.

Two bedders with ocean views rent at $300 plus a night over summer. The block does not welcome schoolies.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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