SA Liberals choose new deputy premier

Dan van Holst Pellekaan has signalled his intention to stand in the ballot for SA deputy premier.
Dan van Holst Pellekaan has signalled his intention to stand in the ballot for SA deputy premier.

Industry Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan has been confirmed as South Australia's new deputy premier.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan's appointment came at a meeting of Liberal lower house MPs on Thursday.

He has been acting in the role since Vickie Chapman stood aside and subsequently resigned from the role earlier this week.

Ms Chapman is facing an ombudsman's inquiry over her handling, as then planning minister, of a proposal to build a deep sea port on Kangaroo Island.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan defeated Environment Minister David Speirs in the deputy leadership ballot.

Premier Steven Marshall said his new deputy had been a conscientious, hardworking and invaluable member of the cabinet.

"He is a valuable colleague and a stoic advocate for our regions and I'm looking forward to working with him closely on delivering the things that matter most to the people of South Australia," Mr Marshall said.

"Dan has led the state out of South Australia's darkest days of blackouts and skyrocketing energy prices to stabilise our electricity system.

"He has also provided strong, decisive leadership for South Australia's vibrant energy and mining sectors."

As well as relinquishing the deputy's role, Ms Chapman also gave up the planning and local government portfolios and stood aside as attorney-general.

She technically remains in the Liberal ministry but has no responsibilities, will not take part in cabinet meetings and will forgo the extra pay ministers usually receive.

Her decisions came amid ongoing conflict of interest claims and a no-confidence motion in parliament last week.

The motion came after a parliamentary committee found she had, on at least three occasions, misled the house over a Kangaroo Island development.

Despite repeatedly maintaining she had done nothing wrong, Ms Chapman said she would stand aside to allow SA Ombudsman Wayne Lines to conduct an independent investigation into her rejection in August of the application to build a $40 million port on the island's north coast.

It was recently revealed her family owned property was near a timber plantation that would have been logged and trucked to the proposed port.

"I maintain that I have made the right decision in respect of the KI seaport proposal and that I had no conflict of interest, actual or perceived," she said in a statement.

Mr Marshall said Ms Chapman continued to have his full support and he looked forward to her return to cabinet as attorney-general.

While in another development on Thursday, Mr Lines indicated he would consider delegating the investigation to someone outside his office if it was considered he had a conflict of interest in examining Ms Chapman's actions.

He said that could arise from relationships his office had with the Attorney-General's Department which employed his staff, and also because he had met with Ms Chapman from time to time to discuss operational matters.

"My view is that none of these relationships give rise to an actual conflict of interest," Mr Lines said.

"To the extent that these relationships may give rise to a perceived conflict of interest, I consider that any such conflicts have and will be appropriately managed so as not to impact on the impartiality and independence of my investigation."

Australian Associated Press