South Australian Family First Senator-elect Bob Day

The South Australian Family First Senator-elect told SBS there was a lot of concern over the makeup of the new upper house, but said the majority of it stemmed from the major parties’ fears that the cross-benchers would actually be effective.

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“Each one of the new crossbenchers comes from the real world,” he said.

“They’ve all had proper jobs. I know a lot of criticism has been levelled at Ricky Muir, but at least Ricky has had a proper job. Someone like Ricky would do a lot less damage than some of the politicians and characters we’ve seen in the parliament in the last decade who have wasted billions of dollars.”

Listen: Stephanie Anderson speaks with Bob Day.

The Family First Party chairman said he had been “inundated” by concerns in his electorate over proposed budget measures, primarily changes to support payments such as Newstart.

Mr Day, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to social welfare, said the welfare cuts were disturbing and he would oppose them, as well as measures such as paid parental leave (PPL).

He said he intends to support a repeal of the carbon tax and stated that the government was on the “right track” with the GP co-payment.

“I think $7 is probably a bridge too far,” he said.

“… I think a charge of around $3, $4 maybe $5 would have certainly achieved the government’s objectives.”

He criticised the government’s move to tie the payments to the proposed medical research fund, saying there was “no relation whatsoever”.

“I thought we were past all that symbolism and trying to dress things up,” he said.

Mr Day has also met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whom he described as “very good company”.

“I’ve got no complaints at all about the approach by the government,” he said.

“I’ve met with a number of ministers from the senate and also the backbenchers who have been only too willing to help and offer any assistance to a newbie.”