Bob Day

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For other people named Bob Day, see Bob Day (disambiguation).
Bob Day
Senator for South Australia
In office
1 July 2014 – 1 November 2016
Personal details
Born Robert John Day
(1952-07-05) 5 July 1952 (age 64)
Manchester, England, UK
Nationality Australian
Political party Family First (2008–Present)
Other political
Liberal (1987–2008)
Spouse(s) Bronte Day
Profession Businessman
Religion Christianity

Robert John "Bob" Day AO (born 5 July 1952) is an Australian former politician and businessman who was a Senator for South Australia from 1 July 2014 to 1 November 2016. He is a former federal chairman of the Family First Party.[1] Before entering politics, he worked in the housing industry, owning several businesses, and at one stage serving as president of the Housing Industry Association.[2]

Day was the Liberal Party of Australia candidate for the federal seat of Makin at the 2007 election and planned to be the Liberal candidate at the 2008 Mayo by-election but failed to gain preselection which resulted in his resignation from the Liberals. Day immediately joined the Family First Party and was their candidate for the by-election and their first Senate candidate on the South Australian ticket at the 2010 election and 2013 election.

On his fourth attempt to enter federal parliament in 2013, Day was elected to the Senate from a 3.8 per cent primary vote for the South Australian Family First Party[3] and took office on 1 July 2014.[4] Despite a further decline in the Family First South Australian Senate vote to 2.9 per cent he was unexpectedly re-elected at the 2016 double dissolution election.[5] Elected to the 12th and final South Australian Senate spot, Day's term was due to expire on 30 June 2019.[6]

Following the liquidation of Home Australia Group, Day announced his intention to resign from the Senate.[7] However, a potential new investor expressed interest in the business and Day stated that there was too much important work for the Family First Senate seat to be vacant for even one day and that he would not resign before the year's end.[8] Despite this, he resigned on 1 November 2016.[9]

Early life[edit]

Day was born in Manchester, UK, on 5 July 1952. He came to Australia as a child in 1963. Day attended Gilles Plains High School and the University of South Australia.[10]


Day's career started in the South Australian public service at the Materials and Research Laboratories of the former Highways Department, now part of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. 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.[citation needed]

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.[2] 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.[11] Day's business activities have made him a millionaire.[11] Both Huxley Homes and Day himself have been fined for not complying with rectification orders. Twenty-five of Huxley Homes 61 customers are taking legal action against the company for substandard or unfinished work.[12] Day is the sole director of Ashford Homes, which is also facing action over unpaid money to creditors. In September 2016, The Australian newspaper raised concerns of how Day contributed $380,000 to Family First in 2012–13 while his businesses appeared to be facing financial difficulties.[13]

He is a past president of the Housing Industry Association, the trade association which represents the residential housing industry in Australia.[2]

Day was the long-time secretary of the New Right-influenced[14] H.R. Nicholls Society[11] 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."[15][16] 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.[2] Day is a board member of the North East Development Agency, having been president for almost a decade, and of North East Vocational College in Adelaide.[17]

In his community service role, Day has planted several thousand trees for farmers and land owners across South Australia. He undertook a roadside planting, irrigation and re-vegetation program along North East Road including a local school.[when?][18]

Day was elected federal chairman of the Family First Party in 2008.[10]

On the day of Senator Cory Bernardi's resignation from the Liberal Party to form a new party, Day confirmed that he was collaborating with Bernardi but would not say whether he would join the new party; Family First stated that Day had resigned from its executive and believed that he had left the party.[19]

Election candidacies[edit]

2007 federal election[edit]

Upon the resignation of incumbent Trish Draper, Day was preselected as the candidate in the Division of Makin for the Liberal Party of Australia at the 2007 federal election,[2] one of the three marginal seats in South Australia lost to the Australian Labor Party. On a record two-party vote of 57.7 percent to Labor from a record two-party swing of 8.6 percent in Makin at the time, the seat became the safest of the 23 Labor won from the coalition at the election.[3]

2008 Mayo by-election[edit]

Day decided to run as a Family First Party candidate at the 2008 Mayo by-election but was unsuccessful. He had joined Family First immediately prior to the 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 at the expense of others including Day.[11][20] Although endorsed by former deputy Liberal Leader and former Treasurer Peter Costello, the Liberal preselection process saw Day obtain just 10 of 271 votes.[21] Labor did not contest the safe Liberal seat, and on a two-party vote 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 11.4 percent of the primary vote, picking up a swing of 7.4 percent, coming fourth out of eleven candidates, behind the Liberals on 41.3 percent, the Greens on 21.4 percent and independent Diane Bell on 16.3 percent.[3]

2010 federal election[edit]

Day was first on the South Australian Family First Party ticket for the Australian Senate at the 2010 federal election but was unsuccessful. 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 statewide 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".[22] Other commentators rated Day a "slim" chance, citing campaign and financial troubles with the Family First Party.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25][26] 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.[27][28][29]

In the 2009/10 financial year Day made two loans totalling $405,000 to the Family First Party.[30]

2013 federal election[edit]

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),[3] 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.[31] The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.1 percent (down 1.0 percent).[3] Day assumed his seat on 1 July 2014.[4]

Glenn Druery and the Minor Party Alliance[edit]

Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance was behind the 2013 federal election preference deal successes with candidate elections on 0.2 percent (Sports Party), 0.5 percent (Motoring Enthusiasts Party) and 3.8 percent (Family First Party).[32] Druery was on the payroll of the Shooters and Fishers Party and assisted in organising preference meetings and negotiating preference flows between parties.[33][34] Druery had also received regular payments from the Family First Party and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party.[34][35][36][37][38]

2016 federal election[edit]

As Family First's sole incumbent, Day was unexpectedly[5] successful at the 2016 federal election, despite having unsuccessfully mounted a High Court challenge against newly implemented Senate voting reforms which included the removal of group voting tickets, a feature which was crucial to the election of Day at the previous election.[39] Though the South Australian Senate Family First vote was reduced to just 2.9 percent (down 0.9 percent),[40] as the election was a double dissolution, the quota to be elected was halved. Day got to the 7.7 percent quota largely from Liberal preferences when the Liberal's 5th candidate Sean Edwards was eliminated from the count, largely due to the fact the Liberal how-to-vote card recommended to direct their first preference to Family First.[41] Electing only six Senators per state at a non-double dissolution election, the 12th and last spot in South Australia at this election came down to a race between Day and Labor's 4th candidate Anne McEwen. McEwen solidly led Day for the overwhelming majority of the count, until count 445 of a total 457. However upon Edwards and then One Nation candidate Steven Burgess being eliminated at count 445 and 455 respectively, leaving only McEwen and Day remaining, Day had collected enough preferences to overtake and narrowly defeat McEwen − by just a couple of thousand preference votes.[42][43][44] The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.4 percent (up 0.3 percent).[45] Elected to the 12th and final South Australian Senate spot, Day was elected to a three-year term which was due to expire on 30 June 2019.[6]

Liquidation of Home Australia Group[edit]

On 17 October 2016, administrators McGrathNicol were called in to liquidate the Home Australia Group, a building company founded and managed by Day. The group operated under different names in five states: Homestead Homes in South Australia, Collier Homes in Western Australia, Newstart Homes in Queensland, Ashford Homes in Victoria, and Huxley Homes in New South Wales. At the time of the liquidation, construction was halted on over 200 houses being built by the company.[7]

Day released a statement on the same day, stating that he had stepped away from the company when elected in 2013, but had returned in 2015 because of what he called "poor management decisions" in his absence. Seeking to sell the business, or find an equity partner to recapitalise, a contract was signed with a Philippines-based capital resource company to purchase a 75 per cent stake in the group, however the money was not transferred and Day claimed the transfer documents were fraudulent.[7]

Under Section 44 of the Constitution, anyone who is bankrupt or insolvent is disqualified from serving in the House or Representatives or the Senate. Day announced that it "would be untenable to stay in parliament".[7] Day did not immediately resign on the day of the announcement. This gave the Family First Party time to identify a replacement senator, and meant that Day could vote on contentious legislation such as the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill that had been one of the triggers for the double dissolution in 2016.[46] Day later stated that he would not leave the Senate before year's end as there would not be time to install a replacement senator.[8]

On 1 November 2016, Day announced he had tendered his resignation to the President of the Australian Senate, which went into immediate effect. In a statement, Day said "while a number of offers for various parts of the Home Australia business have been received, the major investor who has been examining the group's portfolio of assets over the past fortnight, has decided not to proceed. Accordingly, I have today tendered my resignation to the president of the Senate effective immediately. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as a senator for South Australia and I am sorry it has ended this way."[9]

Constitutional validity of election[edit]

Shortly after Day's resignation, the government announced that it would move in the Senate to refer to the High Court of Australia the matter of the validity of Day's election in July 2016 in regard to a possible breach of Section 44 of the Constitution ("direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth"), due to an indirect pecuniary interest in the ownership of a building in Adelaide, which the Commonwealth was leasing as Day's electorate office. If Day is found to have been elected while disqualified, it may result in a recount being conducted excluding Day and potentially the Family First Party group voting ticket for South Australia, which could result in a senator from another party being elected.[47][48]

The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, held a preliminary hearing before Gordon J, whose judgment delivered on 27 January 2017 made numerous findings of fact.[49][50] The case was heard by a full court of the High Court on 7 February; judgment is reserved.[51][52]

Political views[edit]

Day's political views are set forth on his website[53]

Day is a supporter of the Monarchy of Australia. He does not believe in man-made climate change and opposes attempts to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide.[54]

FFP/LDP economic voting bloc and IPA membership[edit]

Day and David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party announced their intention shortly after the 2013 election to vote as a bloc in the Senate on economic issues, but will vote separately on social issues.[55]

Both Day and Leyonhjelm have long been members of the free market think tank Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).[56]

Land use regulation[edit]

Day advocates sustainable, balanced land and water use which takes into account Australia's scarce resources.[57]

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.[58]

Day takes the position that Australia's stringent urban planning regulations have the effect of driving home prices up artificially and pricing new and low income home buyers out of the market.[59]

Industrial relations[edit]

Day strongly supports independent contracting as an alternative to the traditional employment relationship.[60] 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."[60]

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[61] 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."[21]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Day opposes same-sex marriage.[62] In June 2016, Day was a guest speaker at the launch of Arise Adelaide, a group staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage and the normalisation of same-sex relationships.[63]

Personal life[edit]

Bob and his wife Bronte have three adult children, John, Stephen and Joanna.[10]


  1. ^ Bills, Scott (28 July 2010). "Family First wanted preference deal, says Sex Party". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e McGarry, Andrew (6 August 2007). "Bob the builder means business". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e 26, corporateName=Australian Electoral Commission; address=50 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2600; contact=13 23. "Elections". Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Family First wins Senate spot in SA – NineMSN. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b Koziol, Michael (2 August 2016). "Family First Senator Bob Day re-elected in South Australia, Labor misses out". Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Hunter, Fergus (12 August 2016). "Coalition and Labor team up to clear out crossbench senators in 2019". Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Bob Day: Family First senator leaving Senate as building company goes into liquidation". ABC News. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Richardson, Tom (26 October 2016). "Family First in disarray as Day "reserves right" to stay on". InDaily. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Stephanie Anderson (1 November 2016). "Bob Day tenders resignation as Family First senator". ABC News. 
  10. ^ a b c "Bob Day Profile/Bio". Family First Party. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c d Loyal Lib quits over Mayo: The Australian 28/7/2008 article by Jamie Walker in The Australian 28 July 2008, accessed 17 September 2010
  12. ^ Gartrell, Adam (9 October 2016). "Families in ruin as Family First Senator Bob Day's company crumbles". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  13. ^ Butler, Ben; Wallace, Rick (3 October 2016). "Bob Day gave $380,000 to election campaign as firm struggled". The Australian. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  14. ^ "New Right or Old Wrong? Ideology and Industrial Relations" article by Braham Dabscheck in Journal of Industrial Relations doi:10.1177/002218568702900401 JIR December 1987 Vol. 29 No. 4 425–449, accessed 17 September 2010
  15. ^ "Let's Start All Over Again: The Origins and Influence of the HR Nicholls Society". HR Nicholls. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Who's behind the Independent Contractors Act? by Trevor Cormack, Solidarity, 21/6/2006". Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "Board Members" (PDF). North East Development Agency. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  18. ^ "Young Teens Rally Behind Family First Party's Bob Day". Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. 
  19. ^ ""Like-minded people have a way of coming together": Day coy on Bernardi's venture". InDaily. Adelaide. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  20. ^ Renato Castello (2 August 2008). "Disgruntled Lib in Mayo power play: The Advertiser 3/8/2008". Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Family with the odd black sheep: SMH 15/8/2008". 15 August 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  22. ^ "Neither party will have majority in the Senate: The Age". Melbourne: 2 August 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
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  28. ^ South Australian Senators have been decided media release Australian Electoral Commission 15 September 2010, accessed 15 September 2010
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  31. ^ 2013 SA Senate results and preference flows: ABC
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  44. ^ "Late count: Herbert finalised, Senate results imminent - The Poll Bludger". 1 August 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  45. ^ "Senate 2016 election: AEC". Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
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  48. ^ Green, Antony (1 November 2016). "What Happens if Bob Day is Disqualified as a Senate Candidate?". ABC Elections. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  49. ^ Re Day [2017] HCA 2 (Gordon J).
  50. ^ "High court judge rejects key Labor arguments against Bob Day". The Guardian. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  51. ^ "Submissions, Case C14/2016". High Court of Australia. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  52. ^ Karp, Paul (7 February 2017). "Bob Day sought arrangement to receive rent for electorate office, court hears". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
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  54. ^ Schliebs, Mark (23 September 2013). "Tony Abbott's friend Bob Day vows some fights". The Australian. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  55. ^ Heath Aston (1 June 2014). "Senate's odd couple quickly form a voting blocThe Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  56. ^ Seccombe, Mike. "Abbott's faceless men of the IPA". The Saturday Paper. 
  57. ^ "Water & Land Use" NationBuild.Com, accessed 22 September 2010.
  58. ^ "Houston We Have a Problem" essay by Bob Day on the website of Family First – South Australia, accessed 17 September 2010
  59. ^ ""HOME TRUTHS 'Revisited' – THE POLITICS OF HOME OWNERSHIP" essay by Bob Day" (PDF). Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  60. ^ a b '"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
  61. ^ "Phillip Coorey" website of The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed 14 September 2010
  62. ^ "Family First Senator Bob Day attacks, says most gay men unfaithful to partners, same-sex marriage could lead to push for 'throuple' marriages". Adelaide Now. The Advertiser. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2016. FAMILY First Senator Bob Day has used what could be one of his last Senate speeches to hit out at same-sex marriage and claim that most gay men in relationships are unfaithful to their partners. 
  63. ^ "Anti-gay marriage group Adelaide Arise back Family First senator Bob Day". News Corporation. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2016. Adelaide Arise group [...] is backing Family First Senator Bob Day in the July 2 election. Senator Day has no formal affiliation with the group, but spoke at their launch along with other Senators and candidates, including Liberal Senator David Fawcett. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Day, Bob (1 January 2007). Nationbuild: The Quest for Self-reliance. Connor Court. ISBN 978-0-9802936-7-8. 

External links[edit]