CANBERRA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley agreed on Monday to temporarily stand down while an investigation is conducted into claims that she used taxpayer money to fund personal trips to the Gold Coast.
Ley came under fire late last week when it was revealed she chose to use a taxpayer-funded trip to purchase a 600,000 U.S dollar apartment on the Gold Coast, while it has also since been revealed she used public money to pay for trips to the coastal city over the New Year period in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
At a press conference on Monday, the health minister said while the travel was taken outside of the parliament's sitting dates, she was in fact on official ministerial business.
Despite maintaining that she had not broken any ministerial rules, Ley said she agreed to stand down temporarily while an investigation into the claims is conducted.
"After discussion with the prime minister, I have agreed to step aside while his secretary investigates these travel claims," Ley told the press on Monday.
In a statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expects the "highest standards" from his ministers with regards to the use of public money and announced that the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet would investigate the situation.
"The secretary will thoroughly investigate the travel claims and the minister has assured me that she will promptly provide all information and assistance sought by the secretary for the purpose of this investigation," Turnbull's statement said.
"Australians expect the government to deal with these serious matters very thoroughly and in accordance with the statement of ministerial standards.
"I expect the highest standards from my ministers in all aspects of their conduct, and especially the expenditure of public money."
Arthur Sinodinis will take over as health minister while Ley's travel records are investigated by the government.