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Independent a surprise in new South Australian cabinet

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South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas has pulled a major surprise, picking an independent MP to join his new cabinet.

The premier on Thursday named Geoff Brock as his local government, regional and veterans’ affairs minister.

Mr Brock won the mid-north seat of Stuart in Saturday’s election after successfully switching from his electorate of Frome to take on former deputy premier Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

The change was prompted by boundary changes which moved many of his supporters from Frome into Stuart.

Mr Brock had previously served as a minister in the Labor administration of former premier Jay Weatherill after he provided support in 2014 for Mr Weatherill to form a minority government.

But with Labor likely to hold a clear majority in the next parliament, the new government did not need his support this time.

Less surprising on Thursday was the appointment of Nick Champion as Trade and Investment Minister.

Mr Champion easily won the northern suburbs seat of Taylor after making the switch from federal parliament, where he had served for almost 15 years.

Other members of the Labor minister were largely predictable, with most taking on the same roles they held on the opposition’s front bench.

Chris Picton has been named health minister, Stephen Mullighan treasurer, Tom Koutantonis infrastructure and transport minister and Blair Boyer education minister.

Deputy Premier Susan Close increased her workload with the portfolios of industry and science, space and defence industries, climate, environment and water.

Four of the new ministers, Kyam Maher, Nat Cook, Katrine Hildyard and Andrea Michaels, will need to formally take their oaths at a later date after taking part in the Government House ceremony by video link while in COVID-19 isolation.

Labor’s cabinet reveal came as counting neared a close after Saturday’s poll, with the new government almost certain to hold 27 seats in the 47-seat House of Assembly.

The Liberals will probably hold 15, with four or possibly five going to independents.

Former premier Steven Marshall in Dunstan is still locked in a tight contest with Labor’s Cressida O’Hanlon in the eastern suburbs seat of Dunstan.

After trailing earlier this week, Mr Marshall has pulled ahead but will need the remaining pre-poll and postal votes to continue favouring him to get across the line.

– AAP

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