The 35-year-old union secretary, who has replaced disgraced MLC Bernard Finnigan, has long been touted as a future Labor leader.
Malinauskas told the Legislative Council that Australians must summon the courage to provide opportunities for those seeking better lives.
His Hungarian grandmother Eta and Lithuanian grandfather Peter fled to SA after World War II, eventually opening a fish and chips shop.
“This is a story about a young state in an even younger nation, whose infectious optimism for the future gave it the courage to accept others,” he said.
Malinauskas has served as state secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) since 2008.
He gained notoriety in 2011 for delivering Premier Jay Weatherill the factional support necessary to oust his predecessor Mike Rann.
A senior member of Labor’s Right faction, Malinauskas said the party should be focussed on occupying the political middle ground.
“I’m more interested in outcomes than ideological purity,” he said.
“Markets are efficient but not infallible, government is necessary but rarely extraordinary, and free enterprise should flourish as long as it is fair.”
Malinauskas is likely to switch to a safe lower house seat at the next state election in 2018, a move which would leave him well-placed to pursue a leadership role.
It’s also expected he’ll be fast-tracked into the Weatherill ministry.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.