Federal health minister Sussan Ley has apologised for claiming travel entitlements over a 2015 trip to Queensland, calling the move an ‘error of judgement’.
Ms Ley pledged to pay back travel expenses associated with the May 2015 trip, and costs associated with several other journeys in 2014 and 2015.
The move follows revelations she bought a $795,000 Gold Coast apartment from an LNP donor while on the taxpayer-funded May 9, 2015, trip to Brisbane, which was for a health announcement.
In a statement on Sunday Ms Ley said she had decided to stay on the Gold Coast on the night of May 9 ‘rather than incur considerable extra expense’ by flying back to Albury, and then to Canberra the following day.
She said the travel was within the rules and while attending an auction wasn’t the reason for her Queensland visit, she understood it changed the context of the travel.
‘I have spoken to the prime minister and he agrees that this claim does not meet the high standards he expects of ministers,’ Ms Ley said.
‘I apologise for the error of judgement.’
Ms Ley promised to ask the Department of Finance on Monday to invoice her for the costs of a car and travel allowance claimed on May 9, and the penalty for wrongly claiming.
She said she would also seek invoices to pay two other taxpayer-funded Gold Coast stays, in 2014 and 2015, ‘where I should have stayed and claimed in Brisbane’, as well as a June 2015 flight from Coolangatta to Canberra.
‘In the interests of total transparency, I will ask the department to review all my ministerial travel to the Gold Coast,’ Ms Ley said.
She bought the home from Martin Henry Corkery, who donated $50,000 to the Queensland LNP in 2011.
Labor has called for the minister’s resignation and for her to release her diary and details of who she met on the May 2015 trip.