Sussan Ley's Gold Coast goodtimes triggers her frontbench exodus

Sussan Ley's Gold Coast goodtimes triggers her frontbench exodus
Sussan Ley's Gold Coast goodtimes triggers her frontbench exodus

Health Minister Sussan Ley has stood down from the frontbench while the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, investigates her use of taxpayer funded travel entitlements. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced she was standing aside without ministerial pay in a statement on Monday morning. 

It has been revealed that she has taken 27 flights in and out of the Gold Coast over recent years - many more than her ministerial colleagues - and spent two New Year's Eve at the popular destination.

It was the emergence of details relating to a 2015 purchase of a Gold Coast apartment that became a political issue last Friday as 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. Her partner reportedly has a Gold Coast business business.

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.

The apartment had gone back in price when Ley bought it, having last traded for $830,000 in 2006.

It sold for $455,000 in 2002 and $205,000 in 1984.

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.

“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.

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Gold Coast Main Beach

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