Sussan Ley releases report, mounts defence over scandal

admin | 成都桑拿
14 Sep 2019

Health Minister Sussan Ley The minister is launching the one-stop-shop, cradle-to-grave Brain and Mind Centre moving in with USydPsych schoolIt screens and treat people from early childhood through adolescents to old age for psych issues including childhood mental problems, suicide risk, gambling etc. 8th December 2016 photo by Louise Kennerley SMH?? Photo: Louise KennerleyTurnbull government MP Sussan Ley has broken her silence on the travel expenses scandal that ended her frontbench career, releasing a report that shows only one Comcar ride fell outside parliamentary rules.

Ms Ley resigned as health minister in January after nearly two weeks of public anger over her travel expenses, primarily to the Gold Coast where she had bought an $800,000 investment property.

The affair prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce sweeping changes to the parliamentary entitlements system, but he declined to release a Department of Finance report into her conduct.

Ms Ley on Wednesday released the report herself, after delivering a 10-minute speech in Parliament defending her actions.

The report found one example where a claim was inconsistent with the rules, when she travelled in a government car to the auction where she bought the apartment: “On 9 May 2015, Ms Ley travelled by Comcar from the place of her overnight accommodation on the Gold Coast to the site of a property auction. Her attendance at this auction was of a personal nature and not official business.”

After it emerged she had bought an apartment while on a taxpayer-funded trip, Ms Ley’s office defended it by saying it had been an impulse buy, rather than the main purpose of her Gold Coast trip.

“I know that the notion of buying a property on impulse may seem quite strange to some and while the purchase of this particular property was on impulse, the decision to purchase a property was not,” Ms Ley said in her speech.

She had been considering purchasing a property for some time and had been given pre-approval for a loan months earlier, she said.

“So on Friday night, when my attention was drawn to something suitable and when I was going to be on the Gold Coast as a matter of course, I went along to the auction. It was an entirely incidental and unplanned activity to what was an otherwise busy weekend schedule,” she said.

“The first time that I saw the apartment was 20 minutes before the auction commenced and the first time that I spoke to an agent about this property was when I registered, as I walked through the door.”

Ms Ley voluntarily repaid the full cost of the Comcar journey, as well as the travel allowance she claimed for that night, with a 25 per cent penalty on top. She has also voluntarily repaid a number of other travel expenses totalling $5232, even though the other examples were within the rules.

She did so after realising “the parliamentary expenses guidelines did not align with the community standard”.

“When I resigned as minister I did so because the facts could not overcome the story. The repayments I have chosen to make – entirely voluntarily – are because I recognise I have fallen short of community standards and I want to put the matter beyond further commentary,” she said.

“In no way do I seek to complain about my situation, or how events played out.”

But Ms Ley said she believed the facts had been lost in the “search for a good story”.

“The front page news and the associated conclusions drawn about me talk of someone who bears no resemblance to me.”

She said under the current system MPs sometimes found it hard to assess when the “line of public expectation is crossed”. That decision-making will be taken out of their hands under Mr Turnbull’s changes.

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