A retired couple says Health Minister Sussan Ley made an unsuccessful bid for their house in the Gold Coast Hinterland nine months before she purchased an apartment during a work trip to the region.
Official records show Ms Ley – who stood down from the frontbench on Monday amid an investigation into expenses – claimed travel expenses for a two-night stay on the Gold Coast in September 2014.
The couple who owned the home confirmed to the ABC Ms Ley visited their property in the suburb of Advancetown twice when it was put on the market in 2014 and that she placed an unsuccessful bid on the house.
Nine months later, Ms Ley purchased an almost-$800,000 apartment during a work trip. She said the purchase was unplanned.
She has since stood down as the minister, pending the outcome of two internal investigations into her travel claims.
A spokesman for Ms Ley said she would await the findings of the inquiries before commenting on the second house.
“It would not be appropriate to comment on this issue while the inquiries are ongoing,” the spokesman said.
Official records show Ms Ley claimed for two nights’ accommodation on the Gold Coast on September 5 and 6 in 2014, at a cost of $720, as well as return flights between Albury and Coolangatta, costing $1050.
She also claimed the $271 cost of a hire car at Coolangatta from September 5 to 8.
Expenses system must be streamlined: Canavan
The latest development comes amid fresh accusations against three Coalition ministers of charging taxpayers to attend a New Year’s Eve party hosted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
George Brandis, Peter Dutton and Mitch Fifield were on official business in Sydney on New Year’s Eve in 2015 with a combined travel bill to taxpayers close to $7000.
Crossbench senators have called for reform to the entitlement system, with Senator Nick Xenophon confirming he would reintroduce a bill next month for harsher penalties for breaches of politicians’ entitlement rules.
Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan told the ABC the rules needed to be tightened.
“We had a review report last year, which recommended some major changes to how we manage the work expense system,” he said.
“It does need to be streamlined, it does need to be strengthened. I’m sure [the] government will soon act on those recommendations.”