Julia Gillard's Melbourne sale
More than 300 people turned out to see former prime minister Julia Gillard's Altona home sell under the hammer on Saturday. Domain caught all the action.PT2M8S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zemu 620 349 December 14, 2013
It was more of a circus than an auction. But perhaps that was only fitting for the sale of the home of a woman who has been at the centre of one of the most extraordinary chapters of political theatre in modern Australian history.
More than 300 people turned out to see former prime minister Julia Gillard's Altona home sell under the hammer on Saturday for $921,000 - more than $250,000 above the expected price.
Four bidders slugged it out to push the sale well beyond the median house price for Altona ($560,000).
Auction of Gillard's home draws large crowd in Altona. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
But in the end, it was a woman who described herself as Ms Gillard's biggest fan who will get to move into the single-storey, brick house that Australia's first female prime minister called home since 1998, when she bought it for $140,000.
Jain Wang, an Australian citizen who lives in Melbourne, and her husband, Zheng, were not going to be outbid on the property they had inspected three times since it was put on the market.
Their daughter, a University of Melbourne law student, was also at the auction, and the family will move into the property after a 90-day settlement.
The auctioneer at work at Gillard's house. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
While the new home owners did not want to talk to the media, agent Anna Grech from Jas Stephens said they were thrilled with their purchase.
''Jain is a fan of Julia Gillard and she admires her,'' she said. ''The contract's in her name, so it's passing from woman to woman. She wanted it right from the start. She said to me it was a dream to her. I've spoken to Julia and Tim and they're very, very happy and surprised with the result.''
Before the bidding got under way, auctioneer Terry Fitzpatrick was in his element, playing to the crowd and a huddle of TV crews, who had turned out to get their slice of real estate history. ''If you've just arrived from another planet, welcome to the centre of the universe. A home fit for a queen, a king or, dare I say it, a former prime minister,'' he said, before informing onlookers and serious buyers alike that the vendor was flexible on settlement date. And why wouldn't she be? This a woman who has learnt more than most how to roll with the punches.
Jian Wang with daughter Charlotte and husband Zheung after buying Julia Gillard's house in Altona. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
While not in attendance herself, Ms Gillard had a representative on hand.
Voyeurism was a key feature during the marketing campaign for the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, with the listing receiving 30,000 hits online - more than five times the usual for a property advertised with the agency.
After an opening bid of $500,000 from a heavily tattooed man in track pants and gold hoop earrings - which had the auctioneer and the crowd giggling - the bids quickly escalated to $600,000, with four bidders going head to head to push the price higher.
Gillard puts Melbourne home on Market
Agent Anna Grech at former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's home at 9 Medford Street Altona. Photo: Pat Scala
At $680,000, the auctioneer went inside to ''seek instructions from my client''. When he returned, he informed the crowd that the property was then officially on the market.
As the hammer fell at $921,000, the crowd erupted in applause and another chapter in this former prime minister's remarkable life came to a neat close.