Liberal-turned-independent MP Dan Cregan is set to join the SA Labor cabinet amid a reshuffle that will see a Labor stalwart “temporarily” quit his own party in order to occupy the speakership.

The reshuffle has been triggered by the resignation of another independent MP, Geoff Brock, from the ministry.

Mr Brock will step down from the portfolios of Local Government, Regional Roads and Veteran Affairs, after being added to Premier Peter Malinauskas’s cabinet following the 2022 election.

In June last year, he survived three heart attacks and major heart surgery, to return to work in August.

The full details of the cabinet reshuffle are expected to be made public on Monday, but Mr Brock’s cabinet departure has had an immediate domino effect.

Former Tourism Minister and Labor stalwart Leon Bignell is set to be installed as Mr Cregan’s replacement as speaker — a position Mr Cregan took up in 2021 after quitting the Liberal Party.

Mr Malinauskas says Mr Bignell has “temporarily” left the ALP so he can take on the role.

It follows changes to laws during the last term of government that requires the House of Assembly speaker to not be a member of any political party up until July 1 of the year before a state election.

Mr Brock said he had been “very honoured and greatly proud” to hold his ministerial position.(ABC News: Rory McClaren)

Mr Malinauskas did not rule out making further changes to his line-up, nor the mix of portfolios held by ministers.

Speaking about his decision to step down, Mr Brock — who will remain the member for Stuart, a regional seat that includes the industrial centres Port Pirie and Port Augusta — said he appreciated the Premier’s understanding and would officially step down from his role on Monday.

“Stepping back has been a difficult decision, one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make,” he said.

“This decision to resign now allows me to put all of my energy into my role as the Member for Stuart, and I want to assure the house that I will be continuing on as the local MP and I intend to contest the next election in 2026.”

Mr Malinauskas said he was grateful that Mr Brock would continue serving his electorate and seek re-election in Stuart.

“I am also thankful we will continue to have Geoff’s guidance, input and advice on key projects which outlined the State Prosperity Project – a transformative opportunity to deliver benefits to our entire state, including the communities he represents,” Mr Malinauskas said.

The Premier said his government had become “stronger” because of Mr Brock’s support.

Peter Malinauskas has accepted Mr Brock’s ministerial resignation.(ABC News: Carl Saville)

Decades of service 

Mr Brock has spent more than three decades representing South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf region, first as a Port Pirie councillor and later as an independent MP for the seats of Frome and Stuart.

The political kingmaker was instrumental in helping then-Premier Jay Weatherill return to power with a minority government in 2014 — after an infamous discussion over a ham and pineapple pizza.

It was a move which resulted in him snagging ministerial portfolios in two Labor governments.

As the Minister for Local Government, Regional Roads and Veterans Affairs under the Malinauskas Government, he has helped shore up its regional credentials.

“To represent my people in the inner circle of a government is a great privilege,” Mr Brock said after he was sworn in as minister in March 2022.

“I believe the Upper Spencer Gulf is a powerhouse and it’s been neglected.”

Mr Brock’s political career began in 1989 when he was elected to the Port Pirie Council.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

Mr Brock’s political career began in 1989, when he was elected to the Port Pirie Council and went on to become mayor.

In 2009, Mr Brock entered state parliament, replacing former Premier Rob Kerin as the MP for Frome.

He held that seat until March 2022, when a boundary redistribution prompted him to successfully contest the neighbouring electorate of Stuart, defeating then-Deputy Premier Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

Mr Brock has been a passionate advocate for improving road safety and regional mental health and wellbeing.

He also campaigned heavily for the upgrade of the Nyrstar’s Port Pirie smelter, pushed for a task force to investigate extending cancer compensation rights to Country Fire Service volunteers and successfully set up a parliamentary inquiry into bullying and harassment in the court’s sheriffs’ office.

He will remain the Member for Stuart.

Posted , updated