Julie Bishop spent $2715 to attend luxury polo event
FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop used taxpayer funds to attend the Portsea Polo on Tuesday, spending $2716 on "official ministerial business" the ABC has reported.
The expense comes as public pressure mounts on Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley over her travel expenses to the Gold Coast which included the "impulse" purchase of a luxury apartment, and amid calls for reform in the area of political entitlements.
Ms Bishop was a guest of key sponsors at the event on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, and her costs included $2177 on flights, $416 on a vehicle and a $123 travel allowance.
Should politicians be forced to justify travel expenses?
This poll ended on 30 January 2017.
Yes, if it isn't good enough, they should pay the money back.
No, we should trust our politicians to do the right thing
No, as long as they say it is within entitlements.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The minister's office released a statement in response to questioning from the media.
"The Minister was invited and attended in her official capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party," the statement said.
The Ministerial Standards prohibit travel for private purposes, but allows travel when it is related to their office.
"Ministers must be scrupulous in ensuring the legitimacy and accuracy of any claim for entitlement to ministerial, parliamentary or travel allowance," the guidelines state.
"Although [ministers'] public lives encroach upon their private lives, it is critical that Ministers do not use public office for private purposes."
The ABC also reported that two senior Federal Government ministers and one Tasmanian senator charged taxpayers more than $2500 to attend the AFL Grand Final in 2013.
One of the ministers, Senator Matthias Cormann, is in charge of the government department that oversees politicians' entitlements. Mr Cormann and the two other politicians were guests of the NAB and received hospitality and complimentary tickets.
According to the ABC Mr Cormann charged taxpayers $3533 for airfares for himself and his wife to attend the match.
Earlier Tuesday, Health Minister Sussan Ley's woes deepened after revelations she inspected a Gold Coast property on a previous taxpayer-funded jaunt.
On Monday, Ms Ley stood aside from her health portfolio, without ministerial pay, pending two reviews into her expenses.
Ms Ley was already in hot water for claiming travel entitlements for a May 2015 trip to the resort city where she impulse purchased a $795,000 apartment from a Liberal Party donor.
Then, on Monday it emerged the member for Farrer, in southern NSW, had also billed the taxpayer for two trips to the Gold Coast where she attended New Year's Eve celebrations.
On Tuesday, the pressure kept on building on the Minister - now nicknamed "Ley-buy" - with new allegations she had spent part of her time on other Gold Coast trips looking for properties.
The Daily Telegraph revealed that on two occasions in 2014, she swung by to look at a property owned by Adrienne and Stewart McEachran in the Gold Coast hinterland.
The second inspection, in September 2014, coincided with a long weekend in the Gold Coast, for which Ms Ley billed the taxpayer $2000 in travel costs.
Ms Ley did not answer questions on the new allegations.
However, she agreed to pay back some of the costs related to trips to the Gold Coast but said it was "not an admission that I've broken the rules".