Updated: Apr 24
Sussan Ley is the current Minister for the Environment and previous Health Minister. In 2017, Ms. Ley stepped aside as Health Minister without pay following an investigation into her claims for taxpayer funded travel expenses and an 'impulse' purchase of a $795,000 Gold Coast apartment while travelling for ministerial business.
Expenses Claimed for 27 Taxpayer Funded Trips
In January 2017, it was revealed that Ms. Ley had taken 27 taxpayer-funded flights in and out of the Gold Coast since 2013, significantly more than her non-Queensland ministerial colleagues. For example, Nationals' Leader, Barnaby Joyce, and Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, had only spent three and five nights on the Gold Coast respectively over the same periods. Ms. Ley's travel claims also included two trips over two consecutive years during the new year period.
In total, Ms. Ley has used her taxpayer entitlements to spent 37 nights on the Gold Coast, consisting of 15 nights in 2013, 11 nights in 2014, 10 in 2015 and one in 2016.
Purchase of Gold Coast Property
On one of her taxpayer funded trips in May of 2015 for ministerial business, Ms. Ley was also accompanied by her partner whose travel was also covered by the taxpayer funded travel allowance. During this trip, Ms. Ley purchased a Gold Coast apartment for $795,000 from a Liberal Party donor.
Martin Corkery, the previous owner of the apartment, had donated $50,000 to the Queensland Liberal National Party in 2011, but stated that he had only met Ms. Ley once while the Liberal National Party was in opposition. He also stated that he was overseas at the time of the auction, had no knowledge that Ms. Ley was amongst the possible buyers, and only discovered that Ms. Ley was the purchaser after he received the contract. The Gold Coast property is listed as an investment in Ms. Ley's Register of Interests as is this mortgage for the property.
A spokesperson representing Ms. Ley stated that she had travelled to Brisbane for the purposes of announcing health funding before then meeting with "local health stakeholders" who were 80km away on the Gold Coast. The spokespersons statement continued to say that all expenses claimed during the trip were within the rules for ministerial travel:
"Minister Ley's partner was invited to accompany her to a function in Sydney on the Friday evening. He then travelled with the Minister to Queensland under family travel arrangements. The EMB [Entitlements Management Branch] was consulted at the time to confirm Ms Ley's partner's travel was within the rules. All travel undertaken was in accordance with the rules."
The total cost of Ms. Ley and her partner's travel was $3125, entirely paid for by the taxpayer. During this period, from January 1st 2015 to June 30th 2015, Ms. Ley had the fourth highest expenditure of any MP, claiming almost $650,000 in total, which included more than $100,000 of charter flights and nearly $12,000 on expenses for family travel. In the following 6 month period, from July 1st 2015 to December 31st 2015, Ms. Ley had the highest recorded total for travel allowance claims at nearly $43,000 and the fifth highest recorded total claims for family travel at nearly $15,000. For this period of 2015, Ms. Ley's overall claims totalled nearly $500,000.