Bring back $25 subdivisions: Katter questions lack of land availability in ‘empty country’

Mar 1, 2024

AN estimated 95 per cent of Australia’s land mass is deemed “empty,” yet the Federal Government is choosing to inflame competition for housing and land in already overcrowded cities and regions, Katter’s Australian Party MP Bob Katter says, who recalls blocks of landing going for about $7000 each.

It comes as Mr Katter supported crossbench colleague Calare MP Andrew Gee’s motion in Parliament on Thursday to prohibit foreigners from purchasing residential Australian properties as an immediate relief to the competitive market. The motion was voted down by both major parties.

Beyond banning foreign ownership, the North Queensland MP wants the immediate release of mass Crown land parcels and all subdivision decisions to be given to a single, in situ community-based authority.

Mr Katter addressed the Federal Government’s latest “housing fix” – its Help to Buy Scheme where taxpayers would foot the bill for up to 40 per cent equity of a first homebuyer’s property – labelling the proposal as another that “only increases demand, and does nothing to address supply.”

Mr Katter said the latest scheme was not dissimilar to the government’s previous initiatives which also fuelled demand by providing monetary incentives including deposit guarantees.

And following reports the Federal Government was spending almost $30bn in housing handouts and demand-boosting measures, Mr Katter said it was ignoring its own analysis of the market’s problem – a lack of affordable land. [1]

“No less a person in this place (Parliament) than the Treasurer in his first budget speech said: ‘The problem confronting this nation is affordability. That is being driven by housing prices, which are being pressured by restrictive impositions upon land’,” Mr Katter said.

“And then he said ‘We’re setting up an authority.’

“No, no, we’ve already got four processes we’ve got to go through, and we’ll have five processes we’ve got to go through if that authority is brought into operation.”

Instead, he reminded the government of a time when it cost about $25 and took five minutes to complete a subdivision.

“All land in the greater Charters Towers area was under control of the mines department, and you went to see the mining clerk of the court, a gentleman called Michael Power, if you wanted a subdivision. He said yes, or he said no, and that was as simple as it was.

“My wife said, ‘Can we subdivide it?’

“He said, ‘have you got the survey done?’ She said yes and handed him the survey plan.

“He said, ‘fill out that form’ so my wife filled it out. ‘Give me 25 bucks. Thank you.’

“She said, ‘when can I sell it?’ He said, ‘you can sell it now. Yes, go down to the real estate agent and sell it. Once I’ve stamped it and signed it, it’s finished’.

“Under these rules land was $7,000 in Charters Towers. When the mines department was abolished, it went—hear me—from $7,000 to $142,000.”

Queensland building broker Buildi reported the cost of a subdivision in the Sunshine State to be between $60,000 and $90,000 in fees and charges. [2]

Mr Katter said rather than spend close to $30bn in handouts and force buyers to fight for “tiny, overpriced” blocks in overpopulated centres, the Federal Government should be looking to free up crown land in underpopulated parts of the nation and spend its budget towards establishing those blocks as suitable allotments.

“I use Charters Towers (a suburb of Townsville really) as an example, or Ingham or Mareeba in North Queensland – it’s not like you’re living out in the sticks, you’re close to two major cities within a region of a population exceeding 500,000.

“And then we want the Federal Government to create a campaign – “Sell your house in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne for over $1m, and move up to beautiful NQ, buy a home for half that price and have another $500,000 to spend at your will.”

[1] Property investors get bigger slice of federal housing budget (

[2] How much does it cost to subdivide land in QLD? – Buildi