Brittany Higgins and her fiancé David Sharaz appear to be looking to set up a new life in the south of France with the couple searching for a gardener to attend to a property in a small village – and a French language tutor.
Ms Higgins received up to $3million in taxpayer funds in 2022 based on claims her political career was in ruins after she publicly alleged she was raped by former colleague Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House in 2019.
Mr Lehrmann has continually denied the allegations.
The former staffer has remained tight-lipped about the payment, but has flaunted various luxuries on Instagram over the past year, including getaways to Paris, Geneva and London, the Maldives, and a Snowy Mountains ski trip.
Now, Daily Mail Australia can reveal the couple, who rent a newly built duplex in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast, could be ready to uproot their lives for the sprawling countryside in Lunas, near Bordeaux in southern France.
Brittany Higgins is pictured holidaying in Europe with her fiancé David Sharaz
The couple could be looking to uproot their lives in Australia for the small town of Lunas, in the south of France
On October 2, Mr Sharaz posted in a public Facebook group for English-speaking residents hoping to connect with Francophones in the Dordogne region.
‘Hello, I’m looking for someone to do some gardening for us over the next couple of months. Perhaps once or twice a fortnight. We’re in Lunas,’ he wrote.
About a month later, on November 5, he asked members of the same group if anyone could help him fast-track his French language skills.
‘Hello! I’m hoping to start to learn the language and while my plan of using French movies with subtitles might work over a decade, I’m looking to speed it up!’ he wrote.
‘Does anyone know any good French tutors?’
Lunas is relatively remote with a population of about 650 and is part of a collection of small villages known as ‘pays des monts et des sources’, which translates to ‘land of mountains and springs’.
Stone-terraced homes are tucked in the hills on the edge of the River Gravezon and a four-bedder will set prospective homeowners back about €180,000, which is roughly AU$300,000.
In October and November, Mr Sharaz reached out to members of a public Facebook group for English-speaking people around the Dordogne region (pictured)
Higgins and Sharaz attended the Women of the Year Awards in Sydney on Tuesday night
She completed her ensemble with shiny, nude heels and carried a pink purse
The former government advisor and her partner looked sombre as they entered the venue
Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation trial against Lisa Wilkinson and Network Ten begins this week
Ms Higgins, who may be called upon to give evidence, mingled with guests at the red carpet event
About a week after he requested the services of a gardener in Lunas, Mr Sharaz – who left his media job in Brisbane in February – posted photos on Instagram of various attractions he visited during a trip to Dubai.
In July, Ms Higgins used Instagram to share a series of photos of herself posing outside Palais des Nations, the United Nations’ conference centre in Geneva, Switzerland.
‘Honoured to intern at this year’s @unitednations convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),’ she captioned the post.
The images showed Ms Higgins standing at the front gates of the international peace organisation’s headquarters in Switzerland in a variety of outfits as she attended the three-week conference in May.
Ms Higgin shared a series of snaps of herself outside the Geneva United Nations headquarters (pictured)
The Maldives escape was Brittany’s Christmas present to her fiancé David Sharaz
The couple also went to France at about that time, sharing archived highlights in September from the trip.
In mid-August, Mr Sharaz suggested he was employed in London.
‘Work in London on weekdays,’ he wrote on Instagram, next to a clapperboard emoji.
Next to a train emoji he wrote: ‘Explore Paris on weekends.’
On Tuesday, Ms Higgins enjoyed a new luxury getaway after posting an Instagram Story overlooking Sydney Harbour from the restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel – ahead of the Marie Claire ‘Woman of the Year’ awards.
There was a blueberry pastry on her plate, along with a personalised and handwritten note from staff at the hotel.
The note read: ‘Dear David and Brittany, wishing you a warm welcome to the Four Seasons Sydney.
‘I hope you enjoy your stay and please do not hesitate to let me know should there be anything I can assist with.’
On Tuesday, Ms Higgins posted a photo of Sydney Harbour – just one day before Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation trial begins
A manager at the Four Seasons hotel in Sydney welcomed Ms Higgins and Mr Sharaz to the hotel with a handwritten note
It comes as Mr Lehrmann’s defamation trial against Channel 10, Lisa Wilkinson and the ABC, begins in the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday.
Mr Lehrmann is suing the network and Wilkinson over a TV interview on The Project in 2021 during which Ms Higgins first aired her rape allegations against him, and the ABC over a similar broadcast a year later.
While he was not named in either broadcast, he claims friends and former colleagues were able to identify him as the alleged rapist.
Ms Higgins announced on Twitter earlier this year she was willing to give evidence at the trial.
Mr Lehrmann was tried in the ACT Supreme Court in October last year but the hearing was vacated when a member of the jury brought banned research material into the court.
Shane Drumgold, the former ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, then dropped the sexual assault charge on December 2 due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health.
The following day, and after a single day of mediation, she won her claim against the Commonwealth, which included 40 years of lost wages, even though her allegations are unproven.
Buying property in France, as an Australian
Buying a property in France means negotiating the intricacies of French property law, and pay a notaire, or notary, to oversee each step.
It is possible to get a mortgage as an Australian in France, but there are restrictions – one is that a mortgage debt should not take up more than one-third of your total income. The second is the mortgage taken out must be at least equivalent to 50,000 euros.
New homeowners are required to pay a 10 per cent deposit, along with various taxes.
Depending on the age of the property, different rates of stamp duty apply. For properties older than five years, the rate is around 5.8 per cent. For newer homes, the cost is 0.7 percent, plus VAT which is about 20 per cent of the property price.
New homeowners sign the compromis de vente – the purchase and sales contract – before obtaining the compulsory property report from the vendor.
Laws are complex and require the buyer to elect someone who will eventually inherit the home. That person is written into the contract.
Buyers must transfer the deposit, plus taxes, notaire fees and the first insurance premium before they can sign the settlement contract.