Federal Labor will continue to press for Sussan Ley’s scalp after the health minister stood aside pending an investigation into her taxpayer-funded trips to the Gold Coast.
Ms Ley has been under fire following revelations she bought a $795,000 apartment from a Liberal National Party donor during a taxpayer-funded trip to the Gold Coast in 2015.
It has also been revealed she claimed travel costs to the Gold Coast for New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2013 and 2014 at the invitation of one of Australia’s richest women, Sarina Russo, founder of recruitment agency Job Access and a Liberal Party donor.
Ms Ley said she flew to the Gold Coast at taxpayers’ expense at the invitation of a “prominent Queensland businesswoman” for a business lunch on New Year’s Eve in 2013 and her New Year’s Eve event in 2014.
Ms Russo says she supports Ms Ley’s statement and is happy to help the investigation.
‘I respect and admire the Minister. She has worked diligently in every portfolio and has made a difference,’ Ms Russo said in a statement.
‘Every time I met with her it related to her portfolio or the government at hand.
‘Our focus should be to continue to make Australia great and this is what the minister has always done.’
Ms Russo won multi-million dollar contracts with federal government in 2015.
Ms Ley is forgoing ministerial pay while the prime minister’s department examines her travel claims.
She fronted the media on Monday morning for the first time since the scandal emerged last week, maintaining she had done nothing wrong.
‘I’m very confident that the investigations will demonstrate that no rules were broken whatsoever,’ she told reporters in Albury.
Cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos will step in as acting health minister.
Labor’s shadow special minister of state Don Farrell insists Ms Ley should resign completely or be sacked.
‘The minister has confused her public interests with her private interests,’ he told Sky News.
He said there was no point having a code of conduct for ministers if there were no penalties when it is breached.