News National Sussan Ley resigns over expenses controversy

Sussan Ley resigns over expenses controversy

Ms Ley set up two separate trials of the new e-health system.
Sussan Ley is under fire for her conduct while on the Gold Coast at the taxpayer's expense. Photo: AAP
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Health Minister Sussan Ley has resigned from the cabinet and all ministerial roles over her parliamentary expenses controversy.

Announcing Ms Ley’s decision, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the embattled MP had made the “right judgement” by resigning from her position as Minister for Health and Ageing and Minister for Sport.

“The minister has come to a judgement about the appropriate course of action and I want to acknowledge that,” Mr Turnbull said.

She has made a judgement that is, I believe, in the interests of the government and she has made an appropriate judgement.”

Ms Ley has been embroiled in controversy since it was revealed she purchased an $800,000 apartment on the Gold Coast in 2015 while her travel to Queensland was paid for by taxpayers.

She wrote to the Prime Minister to offer her resignation on Friday, but denied she had broken any rules.

“I am confident that I have followed the rules, not just regarding entitlements but most importantly the ministerial code of conduct, and I do not object to the material that I have provided being made public,” Ms Ley said.

But she accepted “community frustration” and “even anger” over the issue and conceded it had been a distraction for the government.

Entitlements crackdown

The prime minister also announced the government would form an independent parliamentary expenses authority that “will monitor and adjudicate all claims by MPs, senators and ministers”. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tells the media Sussan Ley has resigned. Photo: AAP

The new body would be governed by an independent board, and include members with expertise in auditing, renumeration, as well as a former judicial officer and a former MP.

Mr Turnbull said the entitlements system would also be “modernised” to “allow monthly disclosure of parliamentarians’ expenses”. 

“We should be as careful and as accountable with taxpayers’ money as we possibly can be,” he said.

“We are dealing with other people’s money.”

Further details about the new expenses authority will be drawn up by the Special Minister of State in consultation with other parliamentarians. 

Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong said Labor gave “in principle” support to the proposals announced by the prime minister.

“We will work with him to get a strong and effective set of reforms for Parliamentarians’ expenses,” she said.

Senator Wong said Ms Ley “had done what she should have done a week ago”.

Travel expenses controversy

Ms Ley’s resignation came after she announced on Monday she would temporarily stand aside while an investigation into her travel expenses was conducted.

Sussan Ley
Health Minister Sussan Ley stood down from her post amid an investigation into her expenses. Photo: AAP

She claims she made the purchase while she was travelling on ministerial business and had not pre planned the transaction, saying it was made “on a whim”. That trip cost taxpayers $3,125.

However it was later revealed Ms Ley claimed travel expenses for a two-night stay on the Gold Coast in September 2014.

During this stay – nine months before her 2015 apartment purchase – Ms Ley inspected and made two unsuccessful bids on a property in the suburb of Advancetown.

It was also revealed Ms Ley charged taxpayers for two trips to a New Year’s Eve party on the Gold Coast in 2013 and 2014.

Mr Turnbull said Senator Arthur Sinodinos would continue to oversee the Health, Ageing and Sport portfolios until a further announcement was made next week.

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