Sussan Ley is confident she will return to her ministerial duties, after agreeing to stand down from her health portfolio and the frontbench, pending an investigation into her use of taypayer paid entitlements.
The move follows days of intense scrutiny over the health minister, after it was revealed Ley had purchased an investment property on the Gold Coast, during a taxpayer trip she made to Queensland to make an announcement regarding the availability of new specialist breast cancer medicines.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a statement Monday morning announcing Ley would stand down without ministerial pay, with Senator Arthur Sinodinos to manage her portfolio of duties which include health, aged care and sport.
During a press conference this morning, Ley said that the property purchase was a “last minute decision” and was not planned. She said she will be paying back some of the taxpayer money used to fund the trip, and that she’s confident she will be cleared of any wrong-doing. She said she only found out about the auction the night before going on the trip.
Ley released a statement yesterday saying the, “Travel is within the rules provided” but that she has always “sought to apply higher standards for myself in using valuable taxpayers’ funds”.
“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. The distinction between public and private business should be as clear as possible when dealing with taxpayers’ money,” she said in the statement.
“I have spoken to the Prime Minister and he agrees that this claim does not meet the high standards he expects of Ministers. I apologise for the error of judgement.”