Bob Day

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

Robert "Bob" John Day AO (born 5 July 1952) is an Australian politician and businessman who is a Senator for South Australia and the 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 percent 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 percent he was unexpectedly re-elected at the 2016 double dissolution election.[5] Elected to the 12th and final South Australian Senate spot, per convention he is serving a three-year term.[6]

Early life[edit]

Day attended Gilles Plains High School and the University of South Australia.[7]


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.[8] Day's business activities have made him a millionaire.[8] 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[9] H.R. Nicholls Society[8] 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."[10][11] 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.[12]

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?][13]

Day was elected Federal Chairman of the Family First Party in 2008.[7]

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.[8][14] Although endorsed by former deputy Liberal Leader and former Treasurer Peter Costello, the Liberal preselection process saw Day obtain just 10 of 271 votes.[15] 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".[16] Other commentators rated Day a "slim" chance, citing campaign and financial troubles with the Family First Party.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19][20] 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.[21][22][23]

In the 2009/10 financial year Day made two loans totalling $405,000 to the Family First Party.[24]

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.[25] 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).[26] Druery was on the payroll of the Shooters and Fishers Party and assisted in organising preference meetings and negotiating preference flows between parties.[27][28] Druery had also received regular payments from the Family First Party and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party.[28][29][30][31][32]

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.[33] Though the South Australian Senate Family First vote was reduced to just 2.9 percent (down 0.9 percent),[34] 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.[35] 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.[36][37][38] The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.4 percent (up 0.3 percent).[39] Elected to the 12th and final South Australian Senate spot, per convention he is serving a three-year term.[6]

Political views[edit]

Day's political views are set forth on his website[40]

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.[41]

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.[42]

Both Day and Leyonhjelm have long been members of the free market think tank Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).[43]

Land use regulation[edit]

Day advocates sustainable, balanced land and water use which takes into account Australia's scarce resources.[44]

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.[45]

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.[46]

Industrial relations[edit]

Day strongly supports independent contracting as an alternative to the traditional employment relationship.[47] 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."[47]

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[48] 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."[15]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Day opposes same-sex marriage.[49] 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.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Bob and his wife Bronte have three adult children, John, Stephen and Joanna.[7]


  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 Elections: Australian Electoral Commission
  4. ^ a b Family First wins Senate spot in SA – NineMSN. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b Family First Senator Bob Day re-elected in South Australia, Labor misses out: SMH 2 August 2016
  6. ^ a b Coalition and Labor team up to clear out crossbench senators in 2019: SMH 12 August 2016
  7. ^ a b c "Bob Day Profile/Bio". Family First Party. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "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
  10. ^ "Let's Start All Over Again: The Origins and Influence of the HR Nicholls Society". HR Nicholls. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  11. ^ "Who's behind the Independent Contractors Act? by Trevor Cormack, Solidarity, 21/6/2006". Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  12. ^ "Board Members" (PDF). North East Development Agency. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  13. ^ "Young Teens Rally Behind Family First Party's Bob Day". Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. 
  14. ^ Renato Castello (2 August 2008). "Disgruntled Lib in Mayo power play: The Advertiser 3/8/2008". Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  15. ^ a b "Family with the odd black sheep: SMH 15/8/2008". 15 August 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  16. ^ "Neither party will have majority in the Senate: The Age". Melbourne: 2 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  17. ^ "Sex, debt and heads that roll: a Family saga of biblical proportions: SMH". 15 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  18. ^ South Australian Senate results, 2010 federal election: AEC
  19. ^ "Close Senate Races in Victoria and South Australia: Antony Green ABC". 3 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  20. ^ Kim Wheatley (2 September 2010). "Bob Day edging closer to victory: The Advertiser". Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  21. ^ "Senate Results - South Australia" 2010 federal election: ABC News, accessed 11 September 2010
  22. ^ South Australian Senators have been decided media release Australian Electoral Commission 15 September 2010, accessed 15 September 2010
  23. ^ "Family First misses out on Senate seat in South Australia" The Australian 15 September 2010, accessed 15 September 2010
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ 2013 SA Senate results and preference flows: ABC
  26. ^ Micro-manager behind independents: SMH 10 September 2013
  27. ^ Preference whisperer goes fishin’ in SA: InDaily 21 February 2014
  28. ^ a b Bitter dispute erupts over Senate preferences in Queensland: ABC 5 September 2013
  29. ^ Senate voting inquiry prompted by Glenn Druery's election tactics could put end to preference trading: ABC 31 March 2014
  30. ^ Promoting people power or gaming the system? Meet 'the preference whisperer': ABC 31 March 2014
  31. ^ Alliance of micro parties boosts odds for likes of One Nation or Shooters and Fishers gaining Senate spot through preferences: Daily Telegraph 5 September 2013
  32. ^ Minor parties will prosper in WA Senate re-run, says 'preference whisperer' Glenn Druery: SMH 21 February 2014
  33. ^ Senate voting reform challenge thrown out by High Court in Canberra: ABC 13 May 2016
  34. ^ SA Senate 2016 election: AEC
  35. ^ SA Senate 2016 election how-to-vote cards: ABC
  36. ^ South Australia Senate 2016 - Distribution of Preferences: Antony Green ABC 4 August 2016
  37. ^ SA Senate 2016 election preference distribution: AEC
  38. ^ Late count: Herbert finalised, Senate results imminent: Poll Bludger 2 August 2016
  39. ^ Senate 2016 election: AEC
  40. ^ "Bob the builder means business" article by Andrew McGarry in The Australian 6 August 2007, accessed 16 September 2010
  41. ^ Schliebs, Mark (2013-09-23). "Tony Abbott's friend Bob Day vows some fights". The Australian. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  42. ^ Heath Aston (1 June 2014). "Senate's odd couple quickly form a voting blocThe Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  43. ^ Seccombe, Mike. "Abbott's faceless men of the IPA". The Saturday Paper. 
  44. ^ "Water & Land Use" NationBuild.Com, accessed 22 September 2010.
  45. ^ "Houston We Have a Problem" essay by Bob Day on the website of Family First - South Australia, accessed 17 September 2010
  46. ^ ""HOME TRUTHS 'Revisited' – THE POLITICS OF HOME OWNERSHIP" essay by Bob Day" (PDF). Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  47. ^ 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
  48. ^ "Phillip Coorey" website of The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed 14 September 2010
  49. ^ "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. 
  50. ^ "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]