Bold agenda outlined for new SA parliament

·3-min read

South Australian Governor Frances Adamson has officially opened the state's 55th parliament, urging MPs to seize the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to invest in its people and respond to the twin challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Ms Adamson addressed members from both houses on Tuesday, outlining the ambitious agenda of the new Labor government after the party's resounding election win in March.

That included reiterating Labor's campaign promises to boost the number of doctors, nurses and paramedics in the health system, introduce pre-school for all children from the age of three, and provide Indigenous Australians with a voice to parliament.

The governor said Australia was faced with the most urgent national recovery project ever experienced outside of wartime.

"The twin crises of the pandemic and climate change have forced change upon us all," she said.

"The question is whether or not we accept and embrace these new realities and opportunities."

Ms Adamson said the voters of South Australia had determined that it was time for action.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for investment in the most important resource South Australia possesses, its people," she said.

"The assumptions of unbroken global supply chains and untrammelled freedom of movement have been challenged by the realities of the pandemic.

"But, even as we recover, this knowledge represents an opportunity for us to become more self-sufficient and resilient to future shocks.

"This is not a time to be timid. This is an opportunity, instead, for renewal."

Earlier on Tuesday, independent MP Dan Cregan was re-elected as speaker in the House of Assembly, and Liberal Terry Stephens was elected president in the Legislative Council.

All MPs, including 14 entering the parliament for the first time, were sworn in, including former deputy premier Vickie Chapman amid ongoing doubts about her position.

Mr Chapman recently announced her decision to quit politics despite only being returned in her eastern suburbs seat of Bragg less than two months ago.

She had intended to officially resign from the parliament on May 31 and recently wrote to Mr Cregan outlining her plans.

Mr Cregan advised her that, under the constitution, her resignation appeared to become effective from the date he received her letter late last month.

But in a statement he said, based on Crown law advice, the question of Ms Chapman's status would be left for the house to determine.

Parliament's first sitting also went ahead without a number of MPs who were isolating at home after contracting COVID-19.

Among those were new opposition leader David Speirs and his deputy John Gardner, along with the health minister in the previous government, Stephen Wade.

Mr Speirs became infected last week, while Mr Gardner developed symptoms at the weekend.

In their absence, Vincent Tarzia stood in as acting opposition leader.

In the 47-seat lower house, Labor holds 27 seats, the Liberals 16, with four in the hands of independents.

In the upper house Labor has nine seats, the Liberals eight, with two held by the Greens, two by SA-BEST and one by One Nation.

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