Robert (Bob) John Day AO (born 5 July 1952) is a businessman in South Australia. He is a home builder and one of the founders of Home Australia. He is a former Liberal Party and Family First Party political candidate, and is the federal chairman of the Family First Party. He was elected as a Family First senator for South Australia at the 2013 federal election and will assume his seat on 1 July 2014.
Day's career started in the South Australian public service at the Highways Department Materials and Research Laboratories (now Transport SA). He qualified as a science technician after studying at the SA Institute of Technology (now UniSA). After six years he resigned and started in the building industry.
He was a founder of Homestead Homes and Home Australia, which now also owns Collier Homes in Western Australia, Newstart Homes in Queensland, Ashford Homes in Victoria and Huxley Homes in New South Wales. These are all major constructors of new houses in their respective states. He is the founder of Oz Homes Foundation, and is managing director of Home Australia. Day's business activities have made him a millionaire. He is a past president of the Housing Industry Association the trade association which represents the residential housing industry in Australia.
Day was the long-time secretary of the New Right-influenced H.R. Nicholls Society and a founder of Independent Contractors of Australia (ICA) - a front group campaigning for labour market deregulation in Australia. According to John Stone of the H. R. Nicholls Society, "one of the most active members of that Association (ICA), Mr Bob Day, has been a member of the [H.R. Nicholls] Society's Board of Management almost from the outset. I do not think he will contradict me if I say that he has taken the ethos of the Society into the work of the Association." Day was also a former board member of the Centre for Independent Studies - a libertarian Australian think tank.
Day was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to the housing industry and to social welfare, on Australia Day 2003. As of 2010[update] Day is a Board Member of the North East Development Agency and North East Vocational College in Adelaide.
In his community service role, Day has planted several thousand trees for farmers and land owners across the State. He undertook a roadside planting, irrigation and re-vegetation program along North East Road including a local school.[when?]
Bob was elected Federal Chairman of the Family First Party in 2008.
2007 federal election
Day was the candidate in the Division of Makin for the Liberal Party of Australia in the 2007 federal election, one of the three marginal seats in South Australia lost to the Australian Labor Party. On a two party preferred vote of 57.70 percent to Labor, it became the safest of the 23 seats they won from the coalition at the election. Day and the Liberals suffered a two party swing in Makin of 8.63 percent.
2008 Mayo by-election
Day decided to run as a Family First Party candidate at the 2008 Mayo by-election, after resigning his 20-year membership of the Liberal Party, accusing the party of a "manipulated" process which saw former Howard government advisor chiefly for WorkChoices, Jamie Briggs, gain Liberal preselection. Although endorsed by former Treasurer Peter Costello, the Liberal preselection process saw Day gain 10 of 271 votes. Labor did not contest the blue-ribbon seat, and on a two-party result of 57 percent at the previous election, the Liberals retained the seat in the by-election with 53 percent of the two-candidate vote against the Australian Greens on 47 percent. Family First and Day received 11.40 percent of the primary vote, a swing of 7.38 percent, coming fourth out of eleven candidates, behind the Greens on 21.35 percent and independent Diane Bell on 16.27 percent.
2010 federal election
Day was first on the South Australian Family First Party ticket for the Australian Senate at the 2010 federal election. Previously, the 2007 result (where independent Nick Xenophon polled 15 percent) saw the Family First Party in South Australia suffer a 1.09 percent swing, finishing with a state-wide primary vote of 2.89 percent. After preferences, a candidate needs 14.3 percent of the vote (a quota) to gain election. Some commentators claimed Day had a "strong chance of taking one of the last two South Australian Senate seats", citing "effective preferences from nine smaller parties". Other commentators rated Day a "slim" chance, citing campaign and financial troubles with the Family First Party. The 2010 result saw Day and Family First receive a swing of 1.19 percent to finish on 4.08 percent of the vote, compared with the party's lower house vote of 4.96 percent, receiving a swing of 0.91 percent. This was well short of a quota, with Liberal Party former MP David Fawcett projected by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to win the last of the six South Australian Senate seats up for election. Progression of the count temporarily gave Day a 512 vote lead, with Day being listed by the ABC as the provisional sixth South Australian Senator. However further progression of the count put Fawcett back in the lead by several thousand votes and went on to win the sixth and final South Australian Senate seat.
2013 federal election
Day ran as a Family First Party South Australia Senate candidate at the 2013 federal election and was successful. The South Australian Senate Family First vote was 3.8 percent (down 0.3 percent), getting to the 14.3 percent quota from 19 group voting ticket party preferences: Australian Independents Party, Australian Stable Population Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Smokers Rights Party, No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics, Building Australia Party, Rise Up Australia Party, Katter's Australian Party, One Nation, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Australian Christians, Shooters and Fishers, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, Democratic Labour Party, Animal Justice Party, Australian Greens, Palmer United Party, HEMP Party, Australian Labor Party. The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.1 percent (down 1.0 percent). Day will assume his seat on 1 July 2014.
Land use regulation
Day advocates sustainable, balanced land and water use which takes into account Australia's scarce resources.
He has expressed his admiration for Houston's approach to zoning. He says they have none, yet there is a vibrant economy and housing prices are low. He claims the relative cost of housing in Australia compared to Houston is related to urban growth boundaries which limit the amount of land available for building.
Bob Day strongly supports independent contracting as an alternative to the traditional employment relationship. He says "independent contracting offers people a real choice between traditional employment ... and ... arrangements which suit the parties themselves rather than one-size-fits-all, out-dated arrangements which have the added involvement of heavy-handed, self-interested third parties."
As a Liberal, Day had taken a position that WorkChoices, an industrial relations reform enacted in 2005 by the Liberal government of John Howard, did not deregulate the industrial relations system far enough. When he left the party and joined Family First, he supported the party platform which opposed WorkChoices. This position was viewed as a contradiction by Australian political journalist Phillip Coorey, Chief Political Correspondent of The Sydney Morning Herald who wrote in 2008:
In 2002, as secretary of H.R. Nicholls, he blamed the award system for high unemployment and the social ills of drugs, crime, violence, poor health, teenage pregnancy and suicide. In a March 2005 financial forum speech, he likened workplace regulations and protections to "Checkpoint Charlie" as he advocated his idea of workplace nirvana, called "Workforce Superhighway". Employment conditions would be determined solely between employers and employees and "no one else". "Hours of work, rates of pay, holidays, sick leave, long-service leave, hiring and firing, will all be agreed between the two parties". There would be no industrial relations commission and workers could settle disputes through either voluntary mediators or magistrates courts. In a January 2005 newspaper column, he urged a return to when apprentices were indentured to tradesmen and paid a modest wage that started at "10 to 15 per cent" of the tradesman's wage. Yet last week The Courier, a local paper in Mayo, featured a small interview piece with Day. "Even on Work Choices - the controversial industrial relations reform that was the biggest single factor in the Coalition's federal election loss - Mr Day said he shared the same views as his new party, which opposed the unpopular policy." Former fellow Liberals were bent double with laughter. "It's true to say his position was to oppose it but only because he thought Work Choices was too bound up with regulation and red tape," said one former colleague. "He was a complete deregulationist."
Bob and his wife Bronte have three adult children, John, Stephen and Joanna.
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- Family First wins Senate spot in SA
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- South Australian Senate results, 2010 federal election: AEC
- "Close Senate Races in Victoria and South Australia: Antony Green ABC". Blogs.abc.net.au. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- Kim Wheatley (2 September 2010). "Bob Day edging closer to victory: The Advertiser". Adelaidenow.com.au. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- "Senate Results - South Australia" 2010 federal election: ABC News, accessed 11 September 2010
- South Australian Senators have been decided media release Australian Electoral Commission 15 September 2010, accessed 15 September 2010
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- Williams, Ruth; Hawthorne, Mark (13 February 2011). "Family First gets $405,000 lifeline from its chairman". The Sunday Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- 2013 SA Senate results: AEC
- 2013 SA Senate results and preference flows: ABC
- 2013 Senate results: AEC
- "Bob the builder means business" article by Andrew McGarry in The Australian 6 August 2007, accessed 16 September 2010
- "Water & Land Use" NationBuild.Com, accessed 22 September 2010.
- "Houston We Have a Problem" essay by Bob Day on the website of Family First - South Australia, accessed 17 September 2010
- ""HOME TRUTHS ‘Revisited’ – THE POLITICS OF HOME OWNERSHIP" essay by Bob Day" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- '"Contract Bridge": Independent Contracting- A Solution to Australia's 64bn Employment Problem' essay by Bob Day on the website of Family First - South Australia, accessed 17 September 2010
- "Phillip Coorey" website of The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed 14 September 2010
- Day, Bob (1 January 2007). Nationbuild: The Quest for Self-reliance. Connor Court. ISBN 978-0-9802936-7-8.