State govt expenses scandal claims Ag Minister

Whetstone, Ridgway and Knoll step down in Cabinet kerfuffle

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Tim Whetstone has stepped down as Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister.

Tim Whetstone has stepped down as Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister.

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The state's agriculture sector is anxiously waiting to see who Premier Steven Marshall promotes as the next Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister following the shock resignation of three Cabinet members at the weekend.

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The state's agriculture sector is anxiously waiting to see who Premier Steven Marshall promotes as the next Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister following the shock resignation of three Cabinet members at the weekend.

Yesterday the Premier announced he had accepted the resignation of Tim Whetstone - who held the primary industries portfolio - as well as Trade and Investment Minister David Ridgway and Transport, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Minister Stephan Knoll after they were accused of inaccurately claiming the Country Members Accommodation Allowance.

Also stepping down is Upper House president Terry Stephens.

The allowance is available to regional MPs when they are in Adelaide on official duties, providing they live more than 75 kilometres from Adelaide.

It follows both houses of Parliament releasing 10 years of allowance records last week to be investigated by the Independent Commissioner for Corruption Bruce Lander.

The Premier said the distractions of the past week had been "extraordinarily disappointing and unacceptable".

He, along with Treasurer Rob Lucas and deputy premier Vickie Chapman, have assumed the roles of the three portfolios until the new line-up is announced early this week.

In a statement, Mr Whetstone apologised to the people of SA and said he would continue to serve his Riverland community as the Member for Chaffey and remain a "passionate SA regional representative".

"For the entire period in government and most years beforehand, the number of allowable nights spent in Adelaide has exceeded the scheme's cap. In this regard, the people of South Australia should be assured I have not received one cent more under this scheme as a Minister than I am eligible for under the terms of Members of Parliament remuneration," he said.

"Nonetheless, I offered, was invoiced and have paid reimbursement to the Parliament for inaccurate claims.

"Once the current matters have been resolved, I would be pleased to once again serve the government in any capacity the Premier feels appropriate."

Mr Whetstone has served as the Primary Industries Minister since the Liberals came to power in March 2018 and listed among his achievements lifting the moratorium on genetically-modified crops, implementing a "zero tolerance" biosecurity policy and securing $25 million in funding to rebuild the Dog Fence.

RELATED: 25 million committed to SA dog fence upgrade

Mr Ridgway - who has been in parliament for 18 years - said as soon as he saw a cabinet reshuffle was to take place, he tendered his resignation, but would continue as a Member of the Legislative Council.

"Working with the 'Marshall team' to help shape the future direction of SA, ensuring our state is even stronger, more prosperous and more resilient, has been one of the greatest privileges of my life," he said.

Mr Knoll said he had also offered his resignation in the best interests of South Australians but would continue as Member for Schubert.

"I have offered my resignation as minister, in the best interests of South Australians, so the government can focus on our response to the global pandemic and improving the lives of the people of South Australia, which is our priority."

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