Meet David

Early life

My life began far away from the communities that I am now privileged to represent in South Australia’s parliament and the life that I had growing up couldn’t have been more different than that which awaited me when I arrived in Australia in 2002.

I was born on a sub-zero December day in the town of Stranraer, in the ancient region of Galloway, an off-the-beaten-track agricultural district on in Scotland’s south western corner.

The eldest of three brothers, we grew up in the small village of Kirkcolm, where I attended the 40-student primary school (there were four kids in my year!). I have no doubt that my commitment to community development and my desire to be involved in public service was sparked during my upbringing in this intensely tight knit community where everyone pitched in to keep the community ticking along.

Weekends and school holidays were spent running amok at my grandparent’s dairy farm, which later became a deer farm.

Moving to Australia

In 2002 my parent’s fulfilled a dream they’d held for years and relocated our family to South Australia. I was far from excited about this move and can’t say I made life easy in the ensuing months!

My way of adjusting to this new life in Australia was to get involved. I became a surf life saver at Brighton; a founding member of Friends of the Lower Field River, a Hallett Cove-based environmental group which has now worked for more than a decade to care for the lower reaches of one of Adelaide’s least altered rivers; and I worked with African-based children’s charity, Watoto, which saw me travel to Uganda twice (in 2007 and 2009) to be part of volunteer projects there.

Between 2004 and 2008, I studied Law and Environmental Studies at the University of Adelaide, graduating with Honours.

Parliamentary career

In 2010 I decided to put my hand up for local council and was elected to represent Coastal Ward for the City of Marion. My time on council was an excellent apprenticeship, learning more about my community, its needs and motivations. I served as Deputy Mayor between 2011 and 2013, before contesting and winning the seat of Bright for the Liberal Party in the 2014 state election.

Following the election of the Marshall Liberal Government in March 2018, I became South Australia’s Minister for Environment and Water. I was also the state’s Cabinet Secretary, charged with fulfilling the Premier’s desire to see a genuine Cabinet-led government take control of our state’s future.

I was elected as the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia after the 2022 election.

Leading the Liberal Party

Being Leader of the Opposition in South Australia is a role I feel incredibly proud to hold. One of the first things I was able to do in this role was unveil my Shadow Cabinet. It is a Shadow Cabinet for all South Australians:

  • six members are women
  • six members are in their 30s
  • nine members have young kids
  • seven members call regional South Australia home
  • two members are first generation migrants.

It is my priority to reform and reinvigorate the Opposition, but at the same time, I want to cast a relentlessly positive vision for our State. Most importantly, I want to advocate for and represent all South Australians.

As well as being Leader of the Opposition, I have opted to take on these important shadow ministerial portfolios: Shadow Minister for Environment; and Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business. These are areas that I have a personal passion for and want to drive significant reform (or continued reform in the case of the environment portfolio).

Minister for Environment and Water

As a committed conservationist from my primary school days, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be South Australia's Minister for Environment and Water between 2018 and 2022. I worked hard to reinvigorate the relevance of the environment portfolio with reforms and initiatives including:

  • re-establishing the state’s National Parks and Wildlife Service and increasing the number of park rangers by more than 45%
  • taking politics and game playing out of the management of the River Murray and securing additional water for South Australia and much needed investment in our precious Coorong
  • leading Australia’s most ambitious climate change program with a nation leading commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 50% (on 2005 levels) by 2030 and net-zero by 2050
  • ensuring South Australia continues to lead the nation in waste management with the country’s first single use plastics ban
  • creating Glenthorne National Park, a new metropolitan national park in Adelaide’s southern suburbs
  • opening the state’s reservoirs for recreation
  • establishing Green Adelaide, a new body charged with the bold greening of metropolitan Adelaide.

Personal life

In my spare time I love to immerse myself in South Australia’s great outdoors. I’m a regular gym goer, rock climber and paddle boarder, and I enjoys hiking in our state’s parks, while continuing to volunteer at the surf club when I can. I also love nothing more than hanging out with friends, watching Netflix and taking my adopted nephew, Tobias, out for the afternoon (where I spoil him rotten and then return him full of sugar to his parents!)

Download David Speirs' biography.