Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt.
Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt. Chris Ison ROK221015cpitt2

First home buyers grant needs to grow

ELEVEN Queensland regional mayors have signed a letter to State Treasurer Curtis Pitt urging him to consider expanding the First Home Buyers Grant but it appears Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey is not one of them.

Mayors and regional leaders have begun lobbying the State Government to push for changes to the $20,000 grant in regional communities.

The grant only applies to new properties, but the leaders, with the backing of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella, are pushing for it to be allowed for existing properties as well.

The NewsMail asked Cr Dempsey if he had signed or if he planned to sign the letter in the future.

Cr Dempsey said while he would welcome any help to further boost economic development, this was ultimately a decision for the Queensland Government.

"Here in the Bundaberg region the council has led initiatives such as the Open for Development program to stimulate economic development, with great success," he said.

"Through this program, we have created jobs, attracted investment and boosted business confidence.

"Properties here are very affordable."

But Ms Mercorella said if the government was to expand the grant it would give regional residents the opportunity to buy in their local market, which would allow sellers to move on and maybe upgrade to something else.

She said according to CoreLogic's latest data, from 2011 to 2016 the median house prices in Bundaberg have declined by $15,000.

"We know that jobs in that market are really tough at the moment, the unemployment rate is very high and the jobs rate is closely linked to housing," Ms Mercorella said.

She said the REIQ had unsuccessfully lobbied for years to have the grant include established housing, but now they were pushing to at least have it included for regional communities to help them out.

"What we are saying is that at a minimum, restore it for those regional communities," Ms Mercorella said.

"These markets don't need more homes built, they need buyers for the oversupply of established homes.

"It is within Mr Pitt's power to bring those buyers to the market and help regional Queensland weather this continuing economic downturn."

A Queensland Government spokesperson said any decision to alter the nature of the program would be a matter for the government to consider in light of budgetary implications.

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