FEDERAL health minister Sussan Ley has been pushed out of the ministry after claims she made for 17 trips to the Gold Coast, sometimes with her partner, all paid for by the good old taxpayer.
During one of the trips, “on impulse” she bought a luxury beachfront unit at Surfers Paradise for $795,000.
Also, there were claims for chartering aircraft in order to keep up her commercial-pilot’s-licence hours and to attend various non-government-business social functions on the Gold Coast, accommodation and transport plus of course travel allowances.
After the cat was out of the bag in media reports, followed by a conversation with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, she very generously announced she was quitting the health portfolio and would pay back some of the tens of thousands involved.
All very nice, but no mention of the supposed new rule that doubles the amount involved is to be paid back to the government by offending MPs.
Isn’t it time for the parliament to do something serious about the wholesale expenses-rorting going on? After all, if someone steals from a person or corporation and they get caught, depending on what is involved, they face a fine or a term in the slammer – and an offer to pay it all back cuts no ice.
Not for our politicians: if they agree to pay it back, they’re off the hook. Just ask Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Attorney-General George Brandis, among others. And Opposition members are no better, nor other MPs.
The new health minister is Greg Hunt, who isn’t exactly a star. But it could have been worse: ‘Forgetful Arfur’ Sinodinos could have been given the gig.