Sussan Ley defends expenses after stepping aside

Ley has attempted to explain the problematic travel expenses in full and is “very confident” she has not broken any rules

During a press conference on Monday, Ms Ley said the decision to step aside as the Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Minister for Sport, was mutually agreed to between herself and the Prime Minister.

Regarding expense claims for New Year’s Eve trips in 2013 and 2014, Ms Ley says she travelled to the Gold Coast during those dates at the invitation of a prominent Queensland businesswoman.

“In 2013, it was for a business lunch, and in 2014 it was for her annual New Year’s Eve event. In 2013, I claimed flights and taxis to get to the lunch, but as I was on annual leave from the next day, I didn’t claim accommodation,” Ms Ley explains.

“Similarly, in 2014, I did not claim accommodation as I stayed privately. On 1 January 2015, I travelled to a sporting function in Sydney as the Minister for Sport.”

Regarding expense claims for a Gold Coast trip during which Ms Ley and her partner purchased a property, she explains that the trip was planned in order to attend several business events.

It was on arrival that Ms Ley’s partner drew her attention to an auction to occur the following day.

“I want to be very clear – my decision late Friday to attend this auction was made after I had planned to travel to the Gold Coast from Brisbane,” she stated.

“The purchase of this particular property was neither planned nor anticipated,” she reiterated.

“I realise that my purchase of the unit changed the character of the occasion to one of a more personal nature, and I should have adjusted my claim accordingly.”

Ms Ley stated that she is “very confident” in the outcome of the two independent investigations that will be conducted by the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“I think it’s fair to say my office staff are working on this now, to get that information made available as quickly as possible so we can get to the end of this and I can get back to my job.”

When asked whether her agreement to pay back some of the costs for the Gold Coast trip were an admission of breaking the rules, Ms Ley responded negatively.

“It’s not an admission that I’ve broken the rules, and I’m very confident that the investigations will demonstrate that no rules were broken whatsoever,” she says.

“My offer to repay the funds was particularly because, in hindsight, the character of my visit to the Gold Coast on this particular occasion changed the moment I unexpectedly was the successful bidder at that auction.”

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