Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley, will be standing aside while as an investigation begins on her travel expenses.
There have been new revelations that Ms Ley used taxpayers’ money to fund two trips to the Gold Coast where she celebrated the New Year.
As reported on news.com.au, Ms Ley has travelled to the Gold Coast between 2013 and 2016, which reportedly have cost taxpayers more than a total of $40,000.
Ms Ley has said she would agree to compensate for some of her cost related to her trips, however, that was “not an admission that I’ve broken the rules”.
In a statement released on Monday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, “I expect the highest standards from my ministers in all aspects of their conduct, and especially the expenditure of public money.”
An investigation will be conducted by the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, during which Ms Ley had agreed to “stand aside without ministerial pay”.
This is a significant concern for the aged care portfolio given the critical reform and roll out of Consumer Directed Care is schedule for next month, affecting both consumers and providers. This current investigation may slow down any actions this office was due to make in the first quarter of the year.
Ms Ley was initially appointed Minister of Health and Minister of Sport in December 2014 as a part of the Abbott government. She retained those portfolios in the Turnbull government during the Liberal Party leadership spill.
She was then later appointed as the Minister for Aged Care in September 2015, adding to her existing portfolio responsibilities as Minister for Health and Minister for Sport.
At that time, Ms Ley believed that bringing the aged care portfolio together with the Ministries of Health and Sport would complement an integrated health system.
In July 2016, the Turnbull Government has announced that Ms Ley was re-appointed and would continue on with her role as the Minister for Health, Aged Care & Sport.
This new investigation could potentially be the end of her career as Minister, however, she said she does not expect to be forced to stand down permanently.
“I’m very confident that the investigations will demonstrate that no rules were broken whatsoever,” she said.
Ms Ley has described this issue as a “distraction” and made it clear that she would not be making her diary public, “It is not always appropriate for ministers to release all of their diaries”.
During this time Arthur Sinodinos will stand in and act as Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Minister for Sport.