South Australia’s Liberal State Government has been dealt a parliamentary embarrassment, losing a series of votes which expose its newfound minority status.

Key points:

  • The Marshall Liberal Government has lost votes in Parliament after being plunged into minority
  • Crossbenchers and Labor moved a series of motions designed to cause discomfort for the State Government
  • Question time will be extended, and specific opportunities will be allowed for crossbenchers to air grievances

Steven Marshall’s government was plunged into minority last month, when backbencher Fraser Ellis suspended his Liberal Party membership after being charged with deception offences relating to his alleged misuse of a parliamentary allowance.

Today Mr Ellis sided with Labor and other crossbenchers to hijack debate, dispensing with government business to move a series of motions designed to cause discomfort.

Two other former Liberals who are also facing criminal charges — Sam Duluk and Troy Bell — also backed the motions, which were put forward by other members of the crossbench.

The motions will see question time in the House of Assembly extended by 15 minutes on each sitting day.

Crossbenchers will also be given more time in Parliament to air their grievances, with specific time set aside in the schedule.

The crossbenchers and Labor were also successful in establishing a new parliamentary committee to examine land access provided to mining companies for mining and exploration under the Mining Act.

The issue is a fractious one for the Liberal Government.

In 2018, Fraser Ellis and several other Liberal backbenchers crossed the floor to vote against the State Government’s own amendments to the act.

The bill eventually passed, with Labor’s support.

Move labelled an ‘extraordinary stunt’

The crossbench ambush appeared to catch the State Government by surprise.

As the House of Assembly met to continue debate on a government bill, Independent MP Geoff Brock sought to guillotine the discussion to argue in favour of the land access committee.

The government opposed the motion, but the crossbencher succeeded, with the house voting 24-22 to immediately consider Mr Brock’s motion to establish the committee.

Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan branded the move as a “pretty interesting sort of stunt”, pointing out Mr Brock had flagged his intention to debate the motion on Thursday.

“It is a pretty extraordinary stunt to be thinking that we need to suspend standing orders to impede the good work that this house has to do today so that this can be dealt with two days earlier than it would have been dealt with anyway,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

But Mr Brock insisted the move was not a stunt.

“This is an issue that has been part of my views for a long time,” he said.

“If, for argument’s sake, it was put and the notice of motion went through on Thursday, it would then be debated, voted on and maybe lost down into hyperspace down the bottom.”

Independent MP Frances Bedford was instrumental in moving motions that saw the government lose votes on the floor of parliament.(

Source: SA Parliament


That theme was echoed by fellow Independent Frances Bedford, who successfully moved motions to extend the House of Assembly’s daily question time from one hour to an hour-and-fifteen minutes, and to provide dedicated time for crossbenchers to air their grievances.

The government opposed both motions, but opted against forcing them to formal votes.