Saturday 14 January 2017

Australian Health Minister Resigns Over Scandal

Sussan Ley

Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley has resigned after using a taxpayer-funded trip to purchase an apartment on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had accepted Ley’s resignation on Friday (January 13).

Entitlements scandals have engulfed Australian politics in recent years, reports the BBC.

Turnbull has now pledged to set up an independent watchdog, based on the UK system, to oversee parliamentary expenses.

“Australians are entitled to expect that politicians spend taxpayers’ money carefully, ensuring at all times that their work expenditure represents an efficient, effective and ethical use of public resources,” he said.

“We should be as careful and as accountable with taxpayer money as we possibly can be.”

In her resignation statement, Ley maintained she had not broken any rules, “not just regarding entitlements but most importantly the ministerial code of conduct”.

However, she said the saga had become a distraction for the government.

“Whilst I have attempted at all times to be meticulous with rules and standards, I accept community annoyance, even anger, with politicians’ entitlements demands a response,” she said on Friday.

Ley faced pressure over separate trips to the Gold Coast, where she purchased the A$795,000 (£473,300; $585,200) investment property in 2015 and attended New Year’s Eve parties in 2013 and 2014.

She described the apartment purchase as an “error of judgement” that was “neither planned nor anticipated”.

Turnbull said he believed Ley’s resignation was the “right judgment” and thanked her for her service.

He said the new expenses watchdog would ensure that politicians’ claims were transparent to the public.

“I have to say I hate the term entitlements. These are work expenses,” he said.

“The circumstances require us to be seen to be putting these matters plainly… so that people can be assured there is independent oversight.”



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