Liberal-turned-independent MP Dan Cregan is the big winner in an SA government cabinet reshuffle and ministerial expansion prompted by the resignation of fellow independent Geoff Brock.

At a ceremony at Government House, Mr Cregan was sworn in as Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services.

In a statement, Premier Peter Malinauskas said the Member for Kavel, who is also the former speaker, will lead the government’s political donations reform as Special Minister of State.

“There has been a considerable amount of work to develop a package which we hope we’ll be able bring through cabinet into parliament … to ban political donations in South Australia,” he said.

“It’s my private view that they can be corrosive … [and] if we’re able to achieve that reform it will be a very substantial step forward for our democracy.”

Mr Cregan said, despite joining the Labor cabinet, he would preserve his political independence.

“I will vote independently on legislation before the parliament in the same way that Geoff Brock has brought his independent judgement to bear,” he said.

Nick Champion’s expanded portfolio will include responsibility for SA Water.(ABC News: Justin Hewitson)

It is Labor’s first reshuffle since the party took power at the state election in 2022, and has been used by the premier to expand his ministry “to best align with key emerging opportunities and challenges in South Australia’s economy”.

Minister Nick Champion takes on an expanded role in what the government is calling the “super portfolio” of Housing and Urban Development, which includes oversight of SA Water, and will also include responsibility for boosting the state’s housing stock.

“Supply is the only answer, both land supply and the supply of houses and apartments,” he said.

Deputy Premier Susan Close has lost Defence and Space Industries to Treasurer Stephen Mullighan, and has also lost oversight of SA Water, but maintains Climate, Environment and Water.

Ms Close has also been given the new portfolio of Workforce and Population Strategy, which will function as part of the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science.

Deputy Premier Susan Close said her responsibilities would include ensuring there were skilled workers for major projects.(ABC News: Justin Hewitson)

She said a top priority in that role would be ensuring there was a strong skills pipeline ahead of major projects such as the AUKUS nuclear submarines.

“There has been already a source of some frustration in South Australia that the skilled migration program has been reduced by the federal government,” she said.

“We will be making, I hope, more progress in assisting Canberra to understand the special requirements in South Australia.”

‘Confused and bemused’

Former police minister Joe Szakacs is now in charge of Trade and Investment, as well as the Local Government and Veterans Affairs portfolios left vacant by Mr Brock’s resignation.

Tom Koutsantonis picks up Mr Brock’s other portfolio, Regional Roads, adding to his role as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

Chris Picton has held on as Minister for Health despite calls from the opposition for his removal amid record ambulance ramping.

“[Labor’s] central promise ahead of the last election was that they were going to fix the ramping crisis, and after two years we’ve seen Chris Picton utterly fail to deliver,” opposition spokesperson John Gardner said.

The reshuffle is the first since Labor took office in 2022.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

Mr Gardner described the reshuffle as “modest”, and said there had been various “demotions in terms of responsibility”.

“When it comes to people having lost responsibilities, Nat Cook has lost an enormous part of her portfolio, and perhaps surprisingly Deputy Premier Susan Close, despite being deputy premier, has also had significant swathes of her portfolio removed,” he said.

Mr Gardner accused the government of showing “little regard” for its backbenchers by not promoting from within, and instead elevating independent MP Mr Cregan to the cabinet ahead of them.

“I reckon there’d be a lot of bemused and confused people in Labor’s backbench right now,” he said.

Geoff Brock, who will remain in parliament as the Member for Stuart, said his decision to step down as a minister — which follows three heart attacks and major heart surgery — was one of the “hardest” he had ever had to make.

“This decision to resign now allows me to put all of my energy into my role as the Member for Stuart,” he said.

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