An independent South Australian MP whose parliamentary support may prove crucial for embattled Education Minister Jennifer Rankine says she is doing a "great job" in trying circumstances over a child abuse scandal.
SA's Liberal Opposition is after Ms Rankine's scalp, but she has won backing from independent MP Martin Hamilton-Smith, who is now her Cabinet colleague.
Ms Rankine is expected to face a vote of no-confidence in State Parliament this week.
But Mr Hamilton-Smith, a former Liberal leader, says Ms Rankine is handling a child abuse scandal involving Families SA admirably.
"I think Jennifer Rankine's doing a great job in very difficult circumstances," he told reporters.
Mr Hamilton-Smith's support could prove crucial in a hung Parliament as the Opposition moves to censure Ms Rankine.
It has been a fortnight since the public learnt of allegations a Families SA carer raped seven children in a residential care home.
There also have been cases of alleged child sexual abuse in schools, including a high-profile case in which an after-school carer was jailed.
With the political spotlight now focused squarely on child protection, the Education Union fears men are being turned off teaching as a career.
Union official David Smith said it was a job now clouded with suspicion about men.
"It is unfortunate that men in particular are being dissuaded from teaching because of the publicity that this has received and the doubt and suspicion that's been put around about it," he said.Debate over child protection responsibility
The Opposition argues child protection matters need to be removed from Education Department responsibility.
The Education Union says the teaching profession is split on that issue.
Premier Jay Weatherill, who made the decision to combine the agencies in 2011, remains unconvinced of the need to separate education and child protection.
"I'm just not persuaded but if they want to put that argument I'm more than happy to listen to it," he said.
A proposed royal commission into the latest alleged abuse will have the freedom to consider it, he said.
Meanwhile, the Liberals are hoping to win crossbench support for their parliamentary bill for a commissioner for children and young people who would be given greater powers than under the Labor Government's proposal.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said his former colleague, Mr Hamilton-Smith, should cross the floor in the House of Assembly.
"He's got a background in childcare centres. He understands this area extraordinarily well," he said.
"I'd be surprised if he's out there advocating for the Government's position."
But Hamilton-Smith, who once was a childcare business owner,plans to vote with the Government.
"If you've got questions about matters in another minister's portfolio ask them, but I'll be supporting the Government's position," he said.