Hong Kong buying enquiries for luxurious Australian homes has increased amid anti-government protests in the region, Reuters reported.

Melbourne-based real estate agency Kay & Burton had been receiving about one-third more enquiries from Hong Kong buyers than usual, with most investors interested in high-end properties priced above $5m, according to the real estate agency’s partner Jamie Mi.

Protests in Hong Kong had “accelerated the motivation” in the past month for wealthy buyers to find properties to move money into.

The protests, fuelled earlier in the year by a proposed extradition bill allowing individuals to be sent to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, have been more violent in recent weeks.

Hong Kong enquiries for Aussie properties increased 50% in the past quarter, according to Juwai.com.

“In the current environment, Australia appears as a safe harbour — both comfortably close and far from home,” Juwai.com executive chairman Georg Chmiel told Reuters.

The enquiries are likely from wealthy foreigners who are already allowed to reside in Australia, possibly planning an exit strategy from Hong Kong.

Australia is experiencing an increased interest in its millionaires-only visa program from wealthy Hong Kong residents, who see the county as a haven amid political unrest in the Chinese-ruled region.

Under the visa program, applicants can obtain a provisional visa if they invest at least $5m into complying investments in the country.

Foreign buyers, especially Chinese, have always favoured the Australian property market. However, rising state taxes on foreign purchases have weakened the demand. The country also introduced stricter regulations on foreign purchases of established homes, pushing Chinese investors toward new apartments.