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Simple Family First transition "wildly optimistic"

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A contentious delay in Family First senator Bob Day’s resignation from parliament is “actually quite helpful” to his party, as it struggles to anoint his successor.

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Family First’s state executive met on the weekend to plan a way forward, after its chairman told InDaily he expected a new candidate to be chosen by this week.

But Dennis Hood now concedes his estimate was “wildly optimistic”.

Instead of what was originally touted as a two-horse race, with Day’s chief of staff Rikki Lambert going head-to-head with his old boss, state MLC Robert Brokenshire, Hood says there are now “eight to 10” candidates for the plum senate spot.

Day’s running mate at this year’s election Lucy Gichuhi last week threw her hat in the ring, but Hood says the other candidates have asked not to be named at this stage.

“We did have a meeting on Saturday, but the meeting was to determine the process, not the candidate,” he said.

“We’ve never encountered this situation before in our party, and we didn’t have a formal process in place, so the first meeting was to determine what the process would be… we’ve almost completed that.”

Of his initial estimate that the whole matter would be done and dusted at the first executive meeting, Hood said: “It turns out I was wildly optimistic… we’re probably looking at four to six weeks.”

Day announced his resignation last week after the collapse of his housing construction empire, but has since signalled he will delay his departure to vote on the Turnbull Government’s workplace bills, including one restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission. That prompted Labor to today demand the Prime Minister rule out accepting the Family First senator’s vote.

Day is expected to return to parliament the week after next.

“By accepting Bob Day’s vote, Malcolm Turnbull will be adding insult to injury for families and contractors who’ve lost so much as a result of his business dealings,” opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said.

But Hood said the delay was “helpful” for the state party, as it “creates a situation where there’s less urgency from our perspective”.

“It’s actually quite helpful,” he said.

-with AAP

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