SA Liberals tackle minority government

Tim DorninAAP
Premier Steven Marshall has expressed his confidence in dealing with the cross bench in SA.
Camera IconPremier Steven Marshall has expressed his confidence in dealing with the cross bench in SA.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has expressed confidence in dealing with the cross bench in state parliament, as the Liberals ponder a likely 12 months in minority government.

Labor and cross bench MPs can now combine to defeat the government on the floor of the House of Assembly following the decision by Liberal MP Fraser Ellis to suspend his membership of the party after being charged with fraud offences.

Mr Ellis will appear in court later this month on 23 counts of deception after a recent Independent Commissioner Against Corruption inquiry into his use of the country MPs' accommodation allowance.

Mr Marshall was upbeat heading into Tuesday's sitting and reaffirmed Mr Ellis had pledged to support the government on issues of confidence and supply.

"We've got a good agenda. Every member of the parliament is elected to act in the best interests of their electorate," the premier told reporters.

"There's some important work to take place this week. I don't expect anything out of the ordinary."

He later told the parliament he had advised Governor Hieu Van Le of the changed circumstances in the house.

"I have spoken to his excellency about the changed arrangements with regard to the size of our joint party room," he said.

But almost immediately the government was defeated in one vote with Labor and the independents combining to force debate on a motion for an inquiry into the government's legislation related to mining access to farmland.

The motion was ultimately successful with the select committee established to report back to the parliament in November.

After revealing the allegations against him last month, Mr Ellis said he would vigorously defend the charges.

He is the third former government MP to come before the courts, all on unrelated matters that are unlikely to be finalised soon.

Troy Bell has been charged with 20 theft and dishonesty offences and is not expected to go to trial until early in 2022.

Sam Duluk will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court later this year as he defends an assault allegation.

If his matter goes to trial, Mr Ellis is also facing a long delay.

Like Mr Ellis, both Mr Bell and Mr Duluk quit the Liberal Party and continue to sit in the parliament as independents.

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