Family First’s Bob Day has changed his mind on resigning from the senate for now

Senator Bob Day. Source: Facebook

South Australian senator Bob Day has changed his mind just a week after saying he would resign from his $199,000 job because it “would be untenable to stay in Parliament” when his home building business went into liquidation.

“I will of course resign,” he said, when his Home Australia group collapsed, leaving 200 homes in five states unfinished, with some more than a year behind their completion date.

If Day was declared bankrupt or insolvent he would, under the Constitution, be forced to step down from the Senate.

But now the senator appears to have had a change of heart about leaving too soon, returning to Twitter today for the first time in a month to declare concerns that, if he left now, the Senate would be left without a Family First representative and South Australia would be down a vote.

“There isn’t time to install a replacement before year’s end,” Day said.

In response, South Australian premier Jay Weatherill said if the senator resigned today, the state parliament would meet next Thursday to replace him.

“We’re happy to facilitate,” Weatherill said.

In a second tweet airing further concerns he said “marriage plebiscite legislation, ABCC and our other work too important to Family First to have a vacant seat for even 1 day in November”.

The ABCC is the government’s Australian Building and Construction Commission — the bill that led to the double dissolution election after it was blocked in the senate.

His stance comes despite missing 12 of the 15 official senate sitting days since parliament reconvened eight weeks ago following the July 2 election. He has been granted personal leave since being reelected as South Australia’s 12th and last senator.

In the meantime, his $199,040 annual salary could see him take home an additional $45,000 if he waits until parliament resumes in February after the Christmas break.

Last week Day said he will lose his family home because he had signed personal guarantees for his business, and the liabilities exceed assets.

He blamed the collapse on “losses associated with Huxley Homes”, the NSW business, as well as “the high price paid for the company in 2003”.

But just a few days after the company’s collapse, Family First filed an amended return for 2013-14 donation with the Australian Electoral Commission that shows Day had “forgiven” a $1.471 million loan to the party, having taken a large dividend from Home Australia.

The dividend led the company’s auditors to observe that the amount was a “material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the consolidated entity’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

The audited report for that financial year was not lodged with the corporate regulator, ASIC, until August 2016.

Following the collapse of Huxley Homes, NSW better regulation minister Victor Dominello revealed that he’d personally met with consumers on several occasions to discuss their complaints against the business.

“I understand the terrible stress that many of them have faced,” he said.

Before the business collapsed, revealed that dozens of customers had complained to Fair Trading about Huxley Homes and in February the consumer watchdog fined the company $20,000 for failing to comply with orders by Fair Trading building inspectors to rectify defective and incomplete building work.

A crowdfunding campaign set up last week in support of Day has so fair raised $31,000 towards its $100,000 target. At the senator’s request, the money will go to subcontractors owed money following the collapse of his business.

McGrathNicol is liquidator for Home Australia Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries.