Cabinet reshuffles can be akin to a game of Snakes and Ladders.

They see some political players climb as others slide backwards or fall off the board entirely.

All moves were on display in this week’s rejig of the South Australian cabinet, triggered by independent Geoff Brock’s departure from the Labor ministry.

“What I am so grateful for is being able to lead such a united team in this Labor government,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said as he was surrounded by his revised line-up and media on Monday afternoon on the lawns of Government House.

But one of the biggest beneficiaries of the shake-up wasn’t a member of the premier’s team at all.

The cabinet reshuffle was triggered by independent Geoff Brock’s departure from the ministry.(ABC News: Justin Hewitson)

Jumping onto the playing board was ex-Liberal now independent Dan Cregan.

Mr Cregan’s former colleague, deputy opposition leader John Gardner, was happy to take aim at the appointment.

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

The premier retorted that he made clear when the government was formed he wanted an independent in cabinet.

“I think it’s a good thing to do, it brings another perspective,” he said.

The former speaker’s rise to the ministry sees him assume the police, corrections and emergency services portfolios, along with the freshly created special minister of state.

It’s a portfolio used at the federal level, held by Senator Don Farrell, which the premier is keen to try in SA.

Cregan takes lead in political donation ban

The ministry’s creation gives Mr Cregan oversight of the Electoral Commission, instead of Attorney-General Kyam Maher, as well as carriage of Labor’s pledge from opposition to ban political donations.

More than two years after the promise was made, making good on it in government has proved a challenge.

“What we’re up against is a suite of High Court decisions that have made clear that, in certain forms, donations should be permittable or couldn’t be excluded,” the premier told reporters in January when questioned about the progress of the bill.

Mr Cregan will have oversight of the Electoral Commission, instead of Kyam Maher.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

When asked on Friday about the laws, Mr Cregan said a “considerable” amount of work has been done but “complex” issues are being faced.

“We are determined to try and see through this initiative,” he said.

“It is difficult, ambitious and will be resisted by a lot of sectional interest groups and lobbyists.

“We will be, if we are able to achieve it, a jurisdiction right at the forefront of safeguarding democracy.”

An argument could be made that by handing over responsibility for working on the donation ban to Mr Cregan, it may give Labor an out if it does prove too hard to develop legislation robust enough to face legal challenge.

“This is an ambitious agenda, there are other jurisdictions who have shied away from this approach. We won’t,” Mr Cregan said.

“We’re going to examine all of the issues, we’re going to take the very best advice, we’re going to put before parliament a package that we think will survive challenge.”

Existing minister Nick Champion also landed on a ladder and moved up the board.

Nick Champion has taken on an expanded role in what the government called a “super portfolio”.(ABC News: Justin Hewitson)

The government’s self-described “super portfolio” puts more elements of the public policy effort in housing under his control, with the former federal MP handed SA Water and Housing SA on top of his existing responsibilities.

“We will have every lever in the hands of one minister, of one department, dedicated in providing supply to the market place,” Mr Champion said on Monday.

By the government’s own admission, solutions to the housing woes are going to take time to roll out.

By creating the expanded housing portfolio, the government is trying to manage the politics of the problem as well as the policy outcome.

Promotions at the expense of some senior female MPs

In the run up to the 2026 election, Labor will be able to argue to voters it saw housing as a serious issue and say it took action to try and address what’s happening, especially if conditions continue to be as tough as they are at present.

But it could be cold comfort for people if they are still struggling to find a place to rent or buy come the polling day in just under two years’ time.

Nick Champion has gained portfolios from Susan Close and Nat Cook.(ABC News: Justin Hewitson)

Nick Champion’s gain has come at the expense of Labor’s most senior female MP Susan Close, as well as her fellow minister Nat Cook.

It also delivers Mr Champion an immediate headache.

He assumes oversight of SA Water during its regulatory determination for the next four years and the utility says it needs hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure upgrades.

Final decisions about how much SA Water will collect from customers, or if there will need be an extra ask on taxpayers to fund works, will be made in coming months.

With the water utility out of her hands, Ms Close has been given the newly created workforce and population strategy ministry.

While Housing SA represented a significant portion of Ms Cook’s responsibilities.

In its place she picks up seniors and ageing from Health Minister Chris Picton.

It was a minor tweak for a minister who wasn’t moving anywhere on the Snakes and Ladders board.

Nat Cook gains seniors and ageing from Chris Picton.(ABC News: Justin Hewitson)

That’s despite repeated calls from the opposition for Mr Picton to be stripped of the health ministry, with the government presiding over record ambulance ramping despite its pre-election commitment to ‘fix the ramping crisis’.

“If that is not a sign of failure, then I don’t know what is,” Mr Gardner said on Monday.

The premier has left the door open to another reshuffle before the 2026 election.

There is a lot to still play for. Where are the dice?