Family First Party

Not to be confused with Family First New Zealand.
Family First Party
Leader Bob Day
Chairman Dennis Hood
Founded 2001
Headquarters 77 Fullarton Road
Kent Town SA 5067
Ideology Conservatism[1]
Social conservatism
Fiscal conservatism
Economic liberalism
Christian right
Political position Centre-right
Colours      Blue and
1 / 76

[Note 1]

SA Legislative Council
2 / 22

  1. Bob Day seat is currently vacant after he resigned on 1 November 2016. It is not yet known when a replacement Senator will be appointed.

The Family First Party is an economically and socially conservative political party in Australia. Although the party publicly denies that it is a Christian party (and has claimed that it is a secular party), Family First has links to conservative Christian religious groups, such as the Evangelical and Pentecostal Australian Christian Churches (also known as the Assemblies of God in Australia), and many of its election candidates and members of parliament have had conservative Christian backgrounds. It has two members in the South Australian Legislative Council (Robert Brokenshire and Dennis Hood), plus one member of the federal Senate, Bob Day.[2] Day resigned on 1 November 2016, and it is expected that his replacement will be appointed in two to three weeks.[3]

Political ideology

Environment and climate change


Bioethics and family policy


Employment and workplace relations


Indigenous affairs

Housing and property development




The party was founded in South Australia in time to contest the 2002 state election, when former Assemblies of God pastor Andrew Evans became its first elected member, winning a seat in the South Australian Legislative Council. A second party member, pharmaceutical executive Dennis Hood, was elected to the Legislative Council at the 2006 state election. Robert Brokenshire replaced Andrew Evans following the latter's retirement in 2008.[30]

In the October 2004 federal election, Family First contested seats all over Australia, generally exchanging preferences with Liberal candidates, although in some seats it exchanged preferences with the Australian Labor Party. At that election the party was successful in having Steve Fielding elected as a Senator for Victoria. Along with independent Nick Xenophon and the five Australian Greens, Fielding shared the balance of power in the Senate from July 2008 to July 2011. He was defeated in the 2010 federal election.

In June 2008, sitting MP and former Liberal Party member, Dan Sullivan, joined the newly-formed Western Australia State Branch of Family First as an executive member. When three former One Nation MPs attended the public launch of the Branch, it fuelled media speculation that they might try to influence the West Australian branch.[31][32]

During the 2009/10 financial year, party chairman Bob Day made two loans totalling $405,000 to Family First. After gaining 4 per cent of the vote in several lower house seats in the 2010 federal election, the party also received around $400,000 in Commonwealth election funding.[33]

Family First returned to the Australian Senate at the 2013 federal election, when Bob Day was elected as a Senator for South Australia.[34] He was re-elected at the 2016 double dissolution election. Only a few months later, his family-owned building company, Home Australia Group, ran into financial difficulties and was wound up. Day announced immediately that he would resign from the senate as a consequence, however he did not resign instantly, allowing time for the party to develop a process for selecting a replacement.[35]

Religious affiliation

Although officially eschewing religious labels, many of its candidates and members are from conservative Christian backgrounds. Family First co-founder Pastor Andrew Evans was the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Australia for twenty years.[36] In the 2002 South Australian election and the 2004 federal election, a number of Family First candidates were church members. In New South Wales, 11 of their 23 candidates for the 2004 federal election were from an Assemblies of God church, the Hawkesbury Church in Windsor.[37]

South Australian Family First Member of the Legislative Council Dennis Hood, the party's state parliamentary leader, is a member of the Rostrevor Baptist Church. When Sunday Mail columnist Peter Goers stated that Hood was an anti-evolution Creationist,[38] Hood did not deny this in his response, while he did attempt to set the record straight on issues of policy.[39]

Family First's preferencing agreement with the Coalition in the 2004 federal election led Barnaby Joyce, the National senate candidate for Queensland, to publicly slam the party the day before the election, calling them "the lunatic Right", and stating that "these are not the sort of people you do preference deals with".[40] Joyce's comments came in response to a pamphlet published by one of the party's Victorian Senate candidates, Danny Nalliah who in his capacity as a church pastor had criticised other religions and homosexuality.

In September 2004, party leader Andrea Mason said that Family First is not a Christian party[41] and Family First Federal Secretary Dr Matt Burnet issued a press release stating:

The party is not a church party or an Assembly of God party, nor is it funded by AOG churches. It does see itself as socially conservative, with Family Values based on Christian ethics. Like any mainstream party we do not have on record the religious affiliations of any of our members. The Board of Reference in South Australia includes business-people, members of the medical profession, as well as ministers and people from Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Uniting and other church groups. The rapid national growth of the party leading into this election and the late decision to contest in all seats possible, has meant that in some states there are candidates, with strong family values, who have been introduced to the party through the personal relationships they have from their involvement in community/church networks.

A 60-minute documentary was made for the ABC-TV Compass program in 2005 and called "Family First – A Federal Crusade".[42] It was produced by Dr Bruce Redman from The University of Queensland.

By August 2010, the party maintained its non-denominational stance and affirmed its affinity towards Christianity in stating "Family First in 2010 is independent of any church or so many other Australian institutions, at Family First our Christian heritage is something we are both proud of and grateful for."[43]

Elections and results

2002 South Australian election

The first election Family First contested was the 2002 South Australian Election. Dr Andrew Evans received a primary vote of 4.02 percent which, along with preferences from other parties, was sufficient to obtain the 8.3 percent quota and get elected to one of the 11 seats available in the South Australian Legislative Council.

2004 federal election

The party agreed to share House of Representatives preferences with the LiberalNational Coalition at the 2004 election[44] (with some exceptions discussed below).

Family First picked up 1.76 percent of the vote nationally. Steve Fielding, the lead candidate in Victoria, was successful in picking up the last Senate seat. Although he received a primary vote of only 1.88 percent (56,376 votes), he achieved the 14.3 percent quota required by a run of preferences including those from the Australian Labor Party. The typically apolitical psephologist Malcolm Mackerras stated "The outlandish result occurred in Victoria in 2004 where the Family First party was able to gather tickets from just about everywhere... this is a fluke. And I’ve always referred to Senator Steve Fielding as the Fluke Senator".[45]

The party also came close to picking up other Senate seats in Tasmania (largely due to preferences from surplus Liberal votes) and in South Australia where the then party leader Andrea Mason narrowly missed out (polling 3.98 percent and receiving Liberal preferences).

State elections since 2004

In the 2005 Western Australian election, Family First polled 21,701 votes in the Legislative Council where it contested 34 candidates[46] compared to 57 candidates in major parties.[47] In the 2006 South Australian election, Family First's vote increased to 4.98 percent in the Legislative Council, and a second Member of the Legislative Council was elected – former pharmaceutical executive Dennis Hood. In several rural and outer metropolitan seats, Family First's vote approached 10 percent – and in the seat of Kavel, Tom Playford, a descendent of former Premier Tom Playford, achieved a vote of 15.7 percent.[48] In the Legislative Council, Family First shares the balance of power with the other minor parties and independents.

In the 2006 Queensland state election, Family First received a primary vote of 7 percent in contested seats (many seats were not contested), with a high of 14.5 percent and several other seats posting results of 10 percent.[49][50] Queensland does not have an Upper House, and these results were insufficient for any candidates to be elected.

In the 2006 Victorian state election, Family First's vote increased from 1.9 percent to 4.3 percent of first preferences,[51] however no candidates were elected.

In the 2012 Queensland state election the party unsuccessfully contested 38 seats.

Federal by-elections since 2004

Following the resignation of Mark Latham and their acquisition of a Senate seat in 2004, Family First contested the 2005 Werriwa by-election and in the absence of a Liberal candidate received 2,890 first preference votes. They had not contested Werriwa in 2004.

As a result of their relatively poor form in the 2007 election, Family First did not contest the 2008 Gippsland by-election, but in a later by-election for the seat of Mayo they won 11.40 percent of the vote but only ran fourth in the absence of a Labor candidate, a total that was only four percent above their vote in the 2007 general election.

Family First did not stand a candidate in any of the 2008 Lyne, 2009 Bradfield or 2009 Higgins by-elections.

2007 federal election

Family First contested the 2007 federal election, in particular seeking to increase its Senate representation. Nationwide, the party received 1.62 percent of the primary vote in the Senate, and 1.99 percent in the House of Representatives, both down slightly on the 2004 result. In Victoria however, both the lower and upper house vote increased by 0.64 percent, to 2.52 and 3.02 percent respectively. No Family First candidates were elected. Sitting Senator Steve Fielding's term did not expire until 2011.

Before the 2007 federal election, Fred Nile criticized Family First for giving preferences (in some states) to the Liberty and Democracy Party, a libertarian political party that as one of its policies wants to legalize recreational drug use, stating "They gave their preferences to the enemy, the anti-Christian party."[52] This was suggested as a reason for their poor election result.[53] Fred Nile's own Christian Democratic Party had also preferenced the Liberty and Democracy Party before any other major party in the Senate.[54]

In 2008, some newspapers claimed that Fielding wanted to "relaunch himself as a mainstream political player, beyond Family First's ultra-conservative evangelical Christian support base." The reports indicated that Fielding had tried to recruit Tim Costello and others around the beginning of 2008 with a view to forming a new party, but had failed to convince them.[55] The revelations came after Fielding changed his position on abortion, after being rebuffed by his party for taking a softer approach.[56] Fielding denied the claims.

2010 federal election

At the 2010 federal election, Family First contested the Senate in all states, but were not successful, with the national vote remaining at around two percent. Fielding's term ended on 30 June 2011, after which the Family First Party no longer had federal parliamentary representation.[57][58][59]

The Queensland Family First Senate candidate Wendy Francis created controversy when she compared allowing same-sex marriage to the stolen generations and to "legalising child abuse".[60]

2013 federal election

Bob 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),[61] getting to the 14.3 percent quota through Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance 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.[62][63] The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.1 percent (down 1.0 percent).[64] Day assumed his seat on 1 July 2014.

2016 federal election

As Family First's sole incumbent, Bob Day was unexpectedly[65] 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.[66] Though the South Australian Senate Family First vote was reduced to just 2.9 percent (down 0.9 percent),[67] 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 Liberal voters to preference Family First.[68] 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.[69][70][71] The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.4 percent (up 0.3 percent).[72] Elected to the 12th and final South Australian Senate spot, he was allocated a three-year term.[73] Due to the failure of his home construction business, Day resigned from the Senate on 1 November 2016 and a replacement was expected to be selected in the following two to three weeks.[3]

Defections from other parties

The party has benefited from a series of high-profile defections.


Family First is incorporated as a Company limited by guarantee and managed by an Executive Committee comprising the Board of Directors. Decision making is tightly held within the executive group, including the capacity to elect new members to the executive, determine party policy and ratify candidate pre-selection.[80] A National Conference occurs once every two years, with delegates from state party licensees. Federal and State branches have Annual General Meetings that are open to all members.[80]

Political relations

David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party and Day announced their intention to vote as a bloc in the Senate on economic issues, but will vote separately on social issues.[81]

Family First and the Australian Greens are often at odds, with Family First often referring to the Greens as "extreme" in their media statements. The two parties are in competition for Senate preferences, particularly from the Labor Party, and ideologically opposed on many issues.[82][83] In the 2006 Victorian election, Family First's limited television advertising campaign specifically singled out the Greens for criticism.

See also


  1. "Federal election 2016: Labor deal splits conservatives". The Australian. June 23, 2016.
  2. Family First wins Senate spot in SA
  3. 1 2 Richardson, Tom (1 November 2016). "Finally, Bob calls it a Day". InDaily. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  4. First, Family. "Family First : Queensland". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  5. "ACF – Victorian election: Environment groups release policy score card". 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  6. "Our Schooling Policy: Choice in Schooling". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  8. "Our Life Policy: Abortion & Euthenasia". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  10. "Our Family policy". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  12. "Our Tax & Governance Policy". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  14. First, Family. "Family First : Queensland". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  16. "Our Employment Policy: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  18. Family First cuts ties to Libs over IR policy, AM, 30 November 2005
  19. "Parliament of Australia: Senate: Senator Fielding's First Speech". 2005-08-10. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  20. Archived 12 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. 1 2 First, Family. "Family First : Queensland". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  22. 1 2
  23. First, Family. "Family First : Queensland". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  25. "Our Housing Policy: A home of your own". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  27. First, Family. "Family First : Queensland". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  30. "New MLC Robert Brokenshire puts major parties on notice". AdelaideNow. 24 July 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  31. 1 2 "Fischer throws weight behind Family First in WA". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  32. "Sullivan to lead Family First". Yahoo!7. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  33. Williams, Ruth; Hawthorne, Mark (2011-02-13). "Family First gets $405,000 lifeline from its chairman". The Age. Melbourne.
  34. "Senators Elected". Australian ElectoralCommission.
  35. Richardson, Tom (25 October 2016). "Simple Family First transition "wildly optimistic"". InDaily. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  36. Toni Hassan (29 September 2004). "The Religion Report". Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 29 October 2004.
  37. Mike Seccombe (2004-09-24). "Behind Family First is a clan of true believers". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax.
  38. "This Hood's hardly one of the boyz". Sunday Mail (Adelaide). 2006-08-13.
  39. "Family First far from extremists". Sunday Mail (Adelaide). 2006-08-27.
  40. Roberts, Greg (8 October 2004). "Nationals split over Family First deal – Election 2004". The Australian. p. 9. |section= ignored (help)
  41. Karen Barlow & Nance Haxton (2004-09-20). "Family First Party campaigns on family values". The World Today. Australian Broadcasting Corporation Local Radio.
  42. "Compass: Family First: A Federal Crusade - ABC TV". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  43. "Family First – South Australia". Family First. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
  44. "House of Representatives Preferencing" (PDF) (Press release). Family First Party. 24 September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2008.
  45. "Family First faces tough election: Reportage 19 August 2010". 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  47. [WA Electoral Commission – State General Election Results on]
  48. "2006 South Australian Election. Kavel Electorate Profile. Australian Broadcasting Corp". ABC. 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  49. "Minor parties hail poll results – National". Melbourne: 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  50. ":: Family First – Queensland::". Archived from the original on 7 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  51. Murphy, Mathew (27 November 2006). "Family First buoyed". The Age. p. 10. Retrieved 16 Aug 2010. |section= ignored (help)
  52. Steve Lewis (2007-11-06). "Christian party's unholy alliance". Herald Sun.
  53. Steve Lewis (2007-11-26). "Electorate strips landscape of the bit-part players". The Daily Telegraph.
  54. "NSW_2007_GVT_A4.indd" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  55. Packham, Ben; Jean, Peter (30 September 2008). "Senator wanted to quit". Herald Sun. p. 4. |section= ignored (help)
  56. Packham, Ben (27 September 2008). "Fielding abortion heat Retreat on women's rights comments". Herald Sun. p. 11. |section= ignored (help)
  57. "Senate result confirms Fielding's defeat: ABC 16 September 2010". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  58. Levy, Megan (2010-09-16). "Family First's Steve Fielding loses Senate seat: The Age 16 September 2010". Melbourne: Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  59. "2010 Senate Results – Summary: ABC elections". 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  60. Grubb, Ben (2010-08-09). "Family First candidate Wendy Francis stands by gay slur on Twitter". The Age. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  61. "Senate State First Preferences By Group". Australian Electoral Commission.
  62. "Micro-manager behind independents". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  63. "Senate Results: South Australia - Australia Votes - Federal Election 2013". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  64. "Senate State First Preferences By Group". Australian Electoral Commission.
  65. Koziol, Michael (2 August 2016). "Family First Senator Bob Day re-elected in South Australia, Labor misses out".
  66. "Senate voting reform challenge thrown out by High Court". 13 May 2016.
  67. SA Senate 2016 election: AEC
  68. "Senate How to Votes: South Australia - Australia Votes - Federal Election 2016". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  69. "South Australia Senate 2016 - Distribution of Preferences".
  70. SA Senate 2016 election preference distribution: AEC
  71. "Late count: Herbert finalised, Senate results imminent - The Poll Bludger". 1 August 2016.
  72. Senate 2016 election: AEC
  73. Hunter, Fergus (12 August 2016). "Coalition and Labor team up to clear out crossbench senators in 2019".
  74. Splinter Party Another Blow to Struggling Libs, The West Australian, 20/8/08.
  75. Campbell, Kate (16 August 2008). "Walker, D'Orazio fight as Independents but Omodei quits". The West Australian. p. 9. |section= ignored (help)
  76. "Former Liberal leader joins Family First". Melbourne: 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  77. Sunday Mail, 3/8/08
  78. "Aidan McLindon signs up for Family First party role". ABC News. 5 June 2013.
  79. "Aidan McLindon new lead Senate candidate for Family First". The Chronicle. 9 August 2013.
  80. 1 2 "RULES OF FAMILY FIRST PARTY QLD. LIMITED". Queensland Electoral Commission. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
  81. Heath Aston (1 June 2014). "Senate's odd couple quickly form a voting blocThe Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  82. "Compass". 2005-05-01. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  83. Farr, Malcolm (2007-04-16). "Greens completely cut down to size". Retrieved 2010-06-16.


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Family First Party.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/13/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.