Australia gives free land locally; Demands are saturated

town quillby, in a the outback of australiaHe hoped that his offer to give up the land for anyone wishing to settle there would attract new families to a remote population of 800. But authorities were inundated with more than 250 applications in less than two weeks, arriving from home and abroad.

Quilpie County Council has come up with a new idea to overcome the housing shortage, an obstacle to finding employees in the cattle and sheep area in western Queensland.

People who buy land and build a house for less than A$750,000 ($560,000) and live in it for at least six months can receive a grant of A$12,500 ($9,400).

Plots of 1,000 square meters (about a quarter of an acre) are sold for the same grant value, so in practice, the board is giving up the land.

The plan was the brainchild of council chief executive Justin Hancock. When he arrived at Quilpie this year, Hancock, 30, spent six months in a shack in a retired community due to a housing shortage in the area.

Quilpie recently needed nurses, teachers, mechanics, butchers, apprentices, and bartenders, among other positions.

Although residents have received requests from as far away as Great Britain, Hong Kong and New ZealandBuyers will need to be Australian citizens or have permanent residence to be eligible for the scholarship.

“If we can bring five new families into the county, that would be a huge success for us,” Hancock said Thursday. “Seeing the interest was a bit overwhelming.”

Property prices have skyrocketed across much of Australia during the pandemic due to low interest rates and extended shutdowns in the largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, prompting people to seek more spacious housing in smaller towns.

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Two of the grants will be for Quilpie residents. One will be for council employee Tom Hennessy, 23, and his fiancée, Tessa McDougall, a 24-year-old teacher. The couple bought a plot of land in August.

Hennessy was born in Kilby, while his fiancée arrived a year earlier from Brisbane, where his relatives are having trouble buying homes and paying mortgages.

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