Senator Defends Reputation of Construction Firm He Founded 3

Friday, March 4th, 2016
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Huxley Homes
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Family First senator Bob Day says a housing company he founded has had problems in the past, but has since improved its operations.

Huxley Homes, one of a number of housing construction companies linked to the South Australian senator, has been the subject of dozens of complaints.

One client, who declined to be named, said he had waited three years for a project home to be built.

Contractors and subcontractors had told the client they had not been paid by Huxley for completed work.

Over the time of the work there had been six project managers, the client said.

Dozens of clients have posted similar complaints online, with one group posting photographs of building faults and discussing legal action on a Facebook site, Huxley Homes Shame Page.

Senator Day said Huxley had been a “bugbear for quite some time” under previous management, but problems had been resolved.

“The company had some disputes with subcontractors which caused numerous delays,” he said.

“But tell me a home building company that: a) doesn’t have any problems and b) customers don’t complain how long their house has taken.”

A number of factors were behind delays including getting access to “tiny blocks in inner suburbs”, disputes with contractors and weather.

But Senator Day said the mistakes were always fixed.

Senator Day said he had resigned as a director when he entered politics in mid-2014, but after his long-time business partner left he was reappointed as a director in December 2014.

He said his wife was the sole shareholder of the group of companies, despite him being a director.

“It’s a sole-family-owned business,” he said.

“I obviously have the authority of an owner even if I am not legally or technically the owner.”

Senator Day, who was elected to the upper house in 2013, has a long history in the business, having been president of the Housing Industry Association.

He founded Homestead Homes in SA in 1983 and set up Home Australia in 1996, which now also owns Collier Homes in WA, Newstart Homes in Queensland, Ashford Homes in Victoria and Huxley Homes in NSW.

His parliamentary pecuniary interest register shows he is the director of nine housing-related companies including Huxley Homes.

The NSW Office of Fair Trading received more than 143,000 calls about home building in 2013/14.

Its Home Building Service issued 36 show cause notices, 391 penalty notices and took 166 offences to court for prosecution.

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  1. David Chandler

    Bob's a decent guy, and you would expect him defend the reputation of the housing businesses which he had a hand in founding. It does leave him conflicted however in discussions regarding housing affordability and construction industry matters such as home owner warranty insurance. The housing industry has been slow to adapt to change and meeting the legitimate interests of the industry's customers. The industry is quick to make a stand on the need for more green fields land supply, low interest rates and negative gearing. The industry is slow out of the block in addressing constant let downs to families buying the biggest investment they will ever make. Its time to stop defending the indefensible and make changes to the behaviour of an industry that is undermining public confidence in the sector and the institutions that are supposed to be there to ensure customers get a better deal. With the rising market share of multi-unit versus detached dwellings it is possible that traditional housing starts may fall beck by 20 to 30% from 2015-16 levels. Perhaps its time to start weeding out the poorest performing housing contractors and lift the industry's standards above the lowest common denominator level.

  2. Anne Paten

    I agree with David – a conflict of interest here and on two fronts. First, Bob has a building company and second his HIA connection means we know he is on the 'building team' and not the 'owners team'. In fact the owners do not have a 'team'. They are alone, each isolated and with no organization that has a voice anywhere to try to protect their interests. The Huxley owners would not start a Shame Page unless they had tried all avenues to get the defects fixed and for a long time with no joy.
    As for defending the indefensible, this is the normal response. Everyone in the industry knows exactly what they are doing and they keep on doing it because they can! The decent people in the industry are ignored just as the thousands of owners who try to access Government each year. As for owners being able to get what they pay for, we know in 40% of cases this is never possible, and 4 in every 10 translates to on e mega disaster and repeated every year.
    The system is well beyond broken and cannot be repaired. A new broom, clean sweep and start again is the only way forward. But there is no will from those responsible – no-one to stand up and be counted. The 'greed is great' mantra is supreme. There will come a time when this catastrophe is exposed and the community will learn what happened and who betrayed them and allowed their lives to be wrecked.

  3. Les Williams

    Allegations that a former president of the HIA has not paid contractors and subcontractors for completed work makes the HIA's claims look somewhat lame. Anne Paten is right in saying the system is broken. Recent articles in Sourceable regarding industry legislation and non confirming building products indicate that. If we have a complete disregard for public safety then what chance of any regard for consumers and payment of the contractual chain. What needs to be investigated is how the industry is continually subjected to watered down and preferential legislation.
    The Commission of Inquiry [SOP} in QLD – 1996 is a perfect example of the political interference by certain groups seeking and gaining preferential treatment. They should be exposed and made accountable for their actions. Keep up the good work.