Turnbull Gamble: How To Keep Bad Economic News Out Of The Media


Our economic future looks increasingly rocky. But thanks to a hapless government, many Australians remain blissfully unaware, writes Ian McAuley.

A cynic might believe that the government has deliberately concentrated its embarrassments in one short period in order to distract attention from a flow of bad economic news and a swag of unpopular policy proposals.

The government has been doing some hard travelling – the Abbott-Turnbull stoush over pre-selection, Sinodinos’s hints about the return of Abbott as Prime Minister, Gleeson’s resignation and the revelation of Paul Grimes’ sacking. That all follows the government’s “gun week”, and has continued to push economics off the mainstream media’s front pages.

The bad economic news started in late September when the ABS released housing price data, showing that our housing boom shows no sign of cooling.

Almost everyone who isn’t a property speculator or a member of the Coalition front bench warns that the longer the bubble expands the worse will be the consequences when it collapses. But Treasurer Morrison’s response was a speech dismissing the influence of tax-privileged property “investors”, defending negative gearing and suggesting that the solution lies in states reducing regulation and releasing more land on the margins of our already over-sprawled cities.

Then, on October 20, the ABS released September labour force data, revealing a one-month loss of 53,000 full-time jobs (confirming a trend evident for the last year) and a continuing fall in the participation rate. For an in-depth analysis of the labour force, I commend Greg Jericho’s Guardian article “How the unemployment rate hides what is happening in the economy”: drawing on ABS data it reveals some worrying trends that the government would prefer not to talk about.



To cap it off, last Wednesday saw the release of the September quarter Consumer Price Index, revealing CPI inflation of 1.3 per cent over the year. In times past governments would have been thrilled by a low CPI, but one doesn’t have to drill down very far to see what lies behind these headline figures.

There have been big price rises in electricity (remember Abbott’s promise when he repealed the carbon tax?), health care, and school education. These are all areas where privatisation and cuts in public funding have forced more costs on to consumers – often the most vulnerable. As Miriam Lyons and I point out, we pay a high price for the conservatives’ obsession with “small government”.

These high price rises are offset by price falls or price stagnation in the rest of the economy. It looks like the 2015 Christmas sales will morph into the 2016 Christmas and post-Christmas sales.

Undeterred by signs of a languishing economy, however, the government has pressed ahead with its poorly-considered proposals on paid parental leave and taxes on young visitors on working holidays (perhaps they’re really trying to protect us from young foreigners who will corrupt our native youth with stories about free universities and generous child care).

News of the collapse of Senator Bob Day’s building company and illegal operations by Melbourne property developers who destroyed a heritage building without approval has not deterred the government from pushing ahead with its proposal to resurrect the Australian Building and Construction Commission – a body with powers that override the normal safeguards of the law, that in its time did nothing to resolve the systemic problems in the industry and that focussed its attention almost entirely on the building unions.

Undaunted, the government is once again pressing for company tax cuts – cuts which, because of our dividend imputation system, would be of most benefit to foreign firms.

These cuts attempt to prolong the life of an economic model that may have had some justification in the 1950s, but which is now taking us towards a national debt crisis. That model relies on foreign investment inflows to support a deficit on current account, or in simple terms, borrowing from the rest of the world to support our material standard of living.

It got us some car plants and it got Menzies through a few elections, all the while accumulating a huge foreign debt – overwhelmingly private debt – and a liability to pay dividends to foreign investors.

Looking at the past week, our cynic may be forgiven for thinking that Turnbull has cleverly kept Barnaby Joyce and George Brandis in his cabinet as foils to make Morrison (and himself) look competent. But when conspiracy theories and sheer stupidity are competing explanations for bad policies, one should always go for stupidity, particularly in an outfit as disunited as the Turnbull Government.


Vegetable enthusiast and tomato cousin, Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce. (IMAGE: Apple and Pear Australia Ltd, 

In contrast to the din of confusion and political spin emanating from Canberra, the last few days have seen two significant non-partisan contributions to our economic debate.

One is from France’s Thomas Piketty, here to speak at Monash University and the Sydney Opera House, warning about the consequences of widening inequality. His 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century carries a plain message: when the rate of return on capital is greater than economic growth, inequalities in wealth go on expanding, wrecking any principles of meritocracy, and leading eventually to social disruption (his Lateline interview with Emma Alberici conveys his main warnings on inequality). His book was prescient, because when he wrote it there was no sign of the coming Brexit and Trump phenomena.

Australia fits Piketty’s model of a country with self-perpetuating inequality. Thirty-five years of neoliberal policies have seen widening disparities in income, leading to widening (and comparatively intractable) disparities in wealth. Ours is no longer the land of the “fair go”; rather, we have become a land where there is little connection between one’s contribution and reward – a connection without which any economic system, capitalist or socialist, will fail.

Piketty suggests we re-introduce inheritance taxes (we had state inheritance taxes until 1977 when Queensland’s premier Bjelke-Petersen abolished them, leaving other states with no option but to follow suit). They would go some way to rectifying intergenerational inequities and would provide some protection against the development of a plutocracy sustained by inheritance.

Inheritance taxes send a message that just as society has contributed to whatever wealth we may have accumulated over our lifetime, we have an obligation back to society, not just to our immediate descendants.

They also remind us to bring up our children as members of society, rather than as members of a small family tribe. The term “family first” is not only the name of a far-right political party; it is also shorthand for the idea ,“Look after #1, #2, #3, #4 and perhaps the family dog, but don’t become concerned with anyone beyond the white picket fence – young people struggling to buy a house, people living in impoverished rural communities, refugees….”

The other policy contribution, along related lines, is from Tim Costello, releasing the Community Council’s Report The Australia We Want. In its introduction, Costello asks us to “imagine a humane and sustainable Australia, where people are more connected and engaged in the communities they live and work in, and where this involvement is reflected in the way we form policies and laws”.

Costello’s message is that we may be more decent and caring than the people we elect to our governments, in a process manipulated by rent seekers and other narrowly-focussed interest groups. In his Radio National interview introducing the work he stresses that life is “not just about me”. Rather “we’re in this together”, and we need a sense of connectedness.

It’s refreshing when someone from a faith-based background reminds us of our community obligations. After all, nowhere in the New Testament or in other religions’ scriptures do we find the term “family values” or the notion that we should confine our affections to our small tribe. In fact the message is entirely the opposite.

And it’s a welcome contrast to the espoused philosophy of Turnbull and his colleagues (many of whom also claim to have faith-based values) who assume that public policy must be based on the premise of individual short-term greed.

The Australia we want is something better – far better – than is envisaged by those who dominate our political debate.



Meet the twins!           Sorry unable to get the twins pic will try again 2morrow



CHATS Productions new show, Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” presents many problems to a director- not lease the need for a believable pair of twins. Director Shirley Barnett is over the moon at her Viola and Sebastian- Beth Hennes and Jaidyn McGrory. Director Shirley Barnett stated “It is incredible to find two such talented young actors with the right “look” for the twins. The whole cast gasped when we first put them together.” Tickets are now on sale online www.jettytheatre.com or at the box office 6652 8088 open Tuesday to Friday 12 to 4pm.


Colonial ladies and Shakespeare- an odd mix, you may think. But in CHATS Productions presentation of “Twelfth Night” director Shirley Barnett imagines a shipwreck on the coast of Australia, instead of Illyria, in the early 1800’s. Photographer Tom Caldwell has imagined Jessica Young admiring some of the tall ships in the harbour. “Twelfth Night” is Chats offering in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death if Shakespeare. And what a celebration it is, mingling comedy and drama with song and romance. “Twelfth Night” can be seen at the Jetty Memorial Theatre, opening on October 13th.” Tickets are now on sale online www.jettytheatre.com or at the box office 6652 8088 open Tuesday to Friday 12 to 4pm.


” Rehearsal fun, Becky Cole (Maria) and Leo Bradney-George (Sir Toby) share a joke during rehearsals for Twelfth Night. Director Shirley Barnett said, “it’s hard to believe that a play written almost 400 years ago should be so funny, but cast watching the rehearsals are in stitches

Library News


Library News


In This Issue

Brought to you by Coffs Harbour City Library





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Launching a brand new service – cloudLibrary!

Cloud LibrarycloudLibrary provides access to a broad range of eBooks and eAudiobooks within one app, allowing borrowing and downloading in one easy step. Synchronise titles, bookmark your reading position, highlight a favourite title, and easily return titles early.

Coffs Harbour Libraries will be running sessions on Introduction to cloudLibrary in November 2016; see Coming Soon for more details.

For more information on accessing our new eBookand eAudiobook platform visit the library website.

cloudLibrary complements our existing Wheelers eBook and OneClick Digital eAudiobook platforms.

MyCoffs – Have your say

MyCoffs Love it!Ever heard yourself saying ‘Coffs would be so much better if…’? Good news! This is your chance to help that change happen. You are invited to say what’s really important to you about living in the
Coffs Harbour area to help shape the vision for our future.Learn more about MyCoffs and get involved by sharing what you love about living in the Coffs Harbour area and how we can make the area even better. Complete the form online or visit Coffs Harbour, Toormina and Woolgoolga Libraries to complete a hard copy.

Like MyCoffs on Facebook and follow on Instagram

This is our opportunity to create the very best future we can.

Paint My Place Exhibition in Art Gallery

Waves breaking on Split Solitary Island by Reg MombassaFriday 30 September – Saturday 29 October
Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery
Earlier this year, fifteen respected Australian artists went on an artist’s camp at Moonee Beach. During this ten day residency, the artists made new work in response to the local area of Moonee Beach, capturing its beauty and atmosphere.

Paint My Place exhibition is the culmination of this 10 day residency and features painting, ceramics and sculpture featuring new and original works by artists including Reg Mombassa, Euan McLeod, Peter & Susan O’Doherty, Isabel Ricketts, Adrienne Richards and Ann Thomson.

Come along to Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery to enjoy this exciting exhibition.

Book Launch and Cemetery Tour

Ruth Morrow at the Coffs Harbour Historic CemeterySaturday 22 October, 1:30pm for 2pm
Coffs Harbour Regional Museum
You are invited to the official launch of the latest Coffs Harbour Regional Museum publication, Coffs Harbour Historic Cemetery by Ruth Morrow.

Following the official launch will be a guided walk through the cemetery.

Bookings are essential – email or phone 6648 4847 to secure your place.

Coming Soon

Coming SoonUpcoming Library Events

Introduction to cloudLibrary eBooks & eAudio
Coffs Harbour
Monday 14 November, 10:30am -12:30pm
Monday 21 November, 2pm – 4pm
Monday 28 November, 10:30am – 12:30pm

Internet Basics
Internet for the Beginner
Thursday 24 November, 2pm – 4pm
Scanning, email & attachments
Thursday 1 December, 2pm – 4pm

Summer Reading Club
Launching Saturday 3 December

Check out the next Library e-News for more information

Coffs Harbour’s new Council: Where oh where is the vision?

Coffs Harbour now has a new elected Council and it is almost an even mix of the old and the new. Let’s leave aside well founded issues around voter apathy and donkey and informal voting that have been covered here on Coffs Outlook in excellent detail  before

 Also let’s also steer clear of issues relating to how ‘above the line groups’ were able to elect members to Council with only a handful of votes in this article, let’s instead now consider what the future holds.

In order to think about where Coffs Harbour might head under its new Council a range of issues need to be considered, things such as voting blocs, alliances, the propensity of those alliances to change over time and the various agendas councillors and the Mayor may have all need to be considered and we may get to these in time.

But one good place to start is to consider what vision, if any, the elected councillors expressed about what they wanted to see for Coffs Harbour.  By that I mean what vision did they articulate in relation to making this an even better place to live, to love, to work in and to do business in?  After all this would give us some idea of their big picture guiding principles would it not?

And here’s the thing, I am scratching to find anything like this from any of the elected candidates.  I’ve gone through The Advocate’s back stories and nothing like that leaps out at me from any of the candidates. Oh sure we had the unscientific poll in The Advocate listing readers priorities but strategic, big picture and visionary are not words I’d apply to them irrespective of the fact more than a few the issues are real and important in my humble opinion.

The new Deputy Mayor stated his decision was driven by his desire to see a more “stable, progressive council” which only time will tell happens or not but, sorry George, a big picture view for where you want to see this city go it is not.

The Council has published big picture stuff before. The Community 2030 Strategic Plan published in 2013 states its five key thematic goals, all resulting from community engagement forums, are;

  • “We are a prosperous and learning community. (Theme: Learning and Prospering)
  • Our communities are healthy, informed and engaged. (Theme: Looking after our Community)
  • Our natural environment is protected and conserved for future generations. (Theme: Looking after our Environment)
  • We are moving around easily, safely and sustainably. (Theme: Moving Around)
  • Our built environment connects us and supports us in living sustainably. (Theme: Places for Living).”

All are worthwhile and I support them, but the trick is how are they to be attained?  Some answer may have been in the Coffs Harbour Economic Strategy 2014 – 2017 which at least has some vision in that it states it is built around “Growth through localisation and love of our City“.  The problem with that strategy document is that I have been told by someone very close to the plan that it ” died the minute the big 2015 CHCC restructure was announced”.

So are we back to ‘Square one’ then?  I intend to write more about the type of place I would like to see Coffs Harbour become in future pieces for Outlook.  But in the meantime how about a few, or all, of our current Mayor and Councillors offering up their visions in a couple of tight sentences and then give their reasoning for their vision and their thoughts about how to achieve it? 

More than a few people have said to me that this will be a ‘do nothing’ Council Ad, no, that was not meant to be complimentary.  So here, Mayor and Councillors, is your chance to start proving them wrong. 

Send a piece into Hugh folks and let’s talk about it here and elsewhere too.  Heck even past Councillors are welcome too. Why restrict it?  Let’s hear from readers too. Let’s get a conversation rolling that hopefully will lead to action.

I’ll take your silence as having proven the ‘do nothing’ charge.

Lastly, I have two questions for the GM of the CHCC, Mr Steve McGrath.  Mr McGrath are you planning;

  • any more restructuring exercises at the CHCC over the next four years? And, 
  • are you planning any more rate rises?  

Just reply below this story.  And remember to tick that you ‘are not a robot’ box!

After all I reckon these are important issues for Councillors and ratepayers to consider when looking at any vision for the city.  

That’s my ‘two-bob’s worth’. 

For now.

By The Contrarian.

Michael Keenan criticised for holding ‘one-sided’ meetings with gun lobby


Exclusive: Gun control advocates say they were excluded from private meetings the justice minister held with firearms lobby on a review of Australia’s gun laws
 Letter signed by gun control advocates calls for ‘unbiased’ review of laws
 Minutes from Michael Keenan’s 2015 meetings with firearms lobby groups

Michael Keenan
 Justice minister Michael Keenan told firearms lobby groups in a private meeting in September 2015 that the government wanted to cut ‘red tape’ from gun regulation. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

A group of 30 domestic violence groups, gun control advocates, politicians and prominent Australians has criticised the federal justice minister, Michael Keenan, for holding “one-sided” meetings in 2015 with the firearms lobby on changes to Australia’s gun laws.

Minutes from the firearms reference industry group obtained by Guardian Australia show Keenan told firearms lobby groups in a private meeting in September 2015 that the government wanted to cut “red tape” from gun regulation.

According to the minutes, “The government is keen to simplify the regulations and the bureaucracy to lessen the red tape for firearms users,” Keenan said at the outset of one meeting. The regulations discussed at that meeting related predominantly to sports shooting.

The documents also show the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia saying their members “haven’t learned properly” and some were being targeted by organised crime as a source of illegal weapons.

The minister’s “one-sided” consultation process and comments have sparked serious concerns from unions, public health groups, domestic violence advocates, politicians and others who support gun control in Australia.

They say the federal government’s review of the landmark 1996 national firearms agreement has now departed from the purpose set down following the Sydney siege, and appears to be shifting towards an opportunity to wind back gun control.

Although gun control groups have been involved in consultations surrounding the review, few have had direct access to the minister. No comparable forum to the firearms reference groups exists for them.

More than 20 prominent Australians have signed the open letter to Keenan expressing their concerns about the minister’s representations, and calling for the opportunity to put their own case to the minister in the same direct way as the firearms lobby.

The signatories include Martha Jabour from the Homicide Victims’ Support Group, the former New South Wales director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, the Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, the NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, Simon Chapman AO, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Women’s Legal Service NSW, Gun Control Australia and the founder of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Walter Mikac.

The meeting minutes show that in August and September 2015 Keenan took two meetings with the firearms industry reference groups. It is made up of only firearms groups. Attendees included representatives from the National Firearms Dealers Association, the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia, Field and Game Australia, Shooting Australia and the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia.

At a later point in the September 2015 meeting, following a discussion of a decision by the South Australian government to require police approval for a person to join a gun club, the minutes note that Keenan said: “The minister agreed that uniformity is sensible, but that he can only work within what is in the commonwealth’s power.

“He noted that he would taken some of these ideas to the states and territories but that he could not make any guarantees unless there is will from them.”

The minutes show the firearms lobby groups putting forward a range of views on the reduction of restrictions to firearms including:

  • Field and Game Australia expressed concerns to the minister about a recent change in South Australia requiring police approval to join a gun club, which they say has created a “backlog of applicants”. The general manager, David McNabb, subsequently told Guardian Australia that South Australia had an “anomalous” system that some members had raised in conversation compared with other states and territories that was holding up their registrations.
  • The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia described as “red tape” the checks currently required for a person to purchase multiple firearms. At the same time, the SSAA also stated its own members continued to be targeted by organised criminal over the last 12 years because they “hadn’t learned properly” about appropriate firearm handling, use and storage. They suggested an advertising campaign to focus on greater security and treating “firearms as a health issue”.
  • Shooting Australia told the minister “restrictions on the use of firearms by minors is also an impediment”, in relation to competitive shooting.
  • The National Firearms Dealers Association raised concerns about the “communication between states” and poor record-keeping surrounding firearms registration. The chair of the association, Luca Scribani Rossi, told the meeting he had firearms still registered to his company that he had sold in 2011. Rossi told Guardian Australia “there are some of the jurisdictions that are better than others, but there seems to be a little bit of a breakdown in registration when a firearm changes from one state to another one”.

The open letter from Australian proponents of gun control, which has been published in full by Guardian Australia, says the meetings contain “not a single gun control or community safety advocate”.

“Unsurprisingly, these meetings ignore community safety issues and instead focus on watering down the [national firearms agreement], importing more guns, increasing children’s access to weapons and removing limits on firearms ownership,” it said.

“If the review of the NFA is to retain credibility you must give at least equal access to gun control advocates. Gun violence can affect people in their relationships, their workplaces, their homes or the public domain.

“So it is essential you officially engage with representatives from the public health sector, criminologists, gun control advocates, unions, domestic violence workers and victim support groups.”

Sam Lee, the chair of Gun Control Australia said: “It is shameful a review that was meant to improve and modernise our gun laws in order to prevent any future sieges, has turned into a review about reducing gun law ‘red tape’ and ways of improving gun sport.

“Instead of standing up to the gun lobby the justice minister has acted as the genie in the bottle hearing all their wishes.”

The release of the meeting minutes comes amid increasing scrutiny over gun access in Australia, and a failure of the state and territory police ministers to agree to reclassify lever-action shotguns that exceed a five magazine capacity from their current level. This was catalysed by particular concerns over the Adler 110.

The federal government has imposed a temporary ban on lever-action shotgun importations until the state and territories reach an agreement, but they failed to do so at a meeting of ministers last week.

George Brandis should be sacked over treatment of solicitor general, Labor says

Mark Dreyfus criticises Turnbull for letting Justin Gleeson step down and says Coalition ‘cannot bear criticism’ and attacks anyone who ‘dares to speak the truth’

 George Brandis
 The attorney general, George Brandis (pictured), would have been sacked by Malcolm Turnbull if he ‘had any strength’, the shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

Mark Dreyfus says George Brandis has behaved dishonourably and disgracefully and should be sacked for his treatment of the solicitor general, Justin Gleeson.

He has also criticised the Turnbull government for its treatment of Australia’s top public servants, saying it cannot bear criticism and attacks anyone who tries to speak truth to it.

Speaking to ABC radio on Tuesday, the shadow attorney general said Brandis had misled parliament “several times” about the circumstances leading to Gleeson’s resignation on Monday.

In a letter to Brandis, Gleeson explained his reasons for stepping down.

“My decision does not amount to a withdrawal of any position I have taken in relation to matters of controversy between us, including before the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee,” he wrote on Monday.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, I also make plain that I reject absolutely each and every attack and insinuation that has been made in recent times upon me personally or upon my office by government members of parliament, including you in Senate committee processes.”

The dispute revolves around whether Brandis consulted Gleeson on his directive that any requests to the solicitor general’s office for legal advice from other areas of government should be approved by the attorney general. Brandis told the Senate he did consult. Gleeson has maintained Brandis did not.

Gleeson was also unhappy that he was not properly consulted on a controversial citizenship bill that split the Abbott cabinet, even though Brandis subsequently claimed that Gleeson had advised it could withstand challenge in the high court.

The dispute culminated in an extraordinary showdown in front of a Senate committee.

On Tuesday, Dreyfus criticised Malcolm Turnbull for allowing Gleeson to step down while refusing to sack Brandis over the affair. “If Malcolm Turnbull had any strength, if was able to lead at all instead of just floundering around, George Brandis would already have gone,” Dreyfus said.

He said the government’s sustained attack on Gleeson showed a pattern of disturbing behaviour. “[Brandis] doesn’t have the slightest idea what an independent legal opinion looks like,” Dreyfus said.

“And we see the same thing in the attack on Paul Grimes by the deputy prime minister, forcing him out of his office as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

“We see the same thing in the attack that George Brandis has repeatedly made on the president of the Human Rights Commission [Gillian Triggs].

“This is a government that can’t bear criticism, that attacks everybody who dares to speak the truth to it, and then turns around and says to anyone who raises this, like me, you’re politicising this matter.”

Last week Triggs was forced to retract a claim she made in a Senate committee hearing that she had been misquoted in an interview with the Saturday Paper in which she described politicians as “usually seriously ill-informed”.

The Saturday Paper accepted Triggs’s retraction in an editorial stating she had made a “significant error”.

It noted her independence had been undermined by “two years of abuse” including government members haranguing her in Senate committees and boasting they hadn’t even read her Forgotten Children report, which was highly critical of the treatment of children in detention.

Dreyfus wrote to Turnbull on Tuesday saying Brandis should not be involved in the selection of a new solicitor general to replace Gleeson.

“Through his treatment of Mr Gleeson, [Brandis] has demonstrated a view of the role of Solicitor-General completely at odds with the way in which this office has operated for a century,” the letter said.

“Moreover, it has been confirmed recently that Senator Brandis appointed 37 people to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in May this year without advertisement or a selection panel.

“This is a precedent which does not indicate he will approach the appointment of a new Solicitor-General in the proper manner.

“Therefore I ask for a guarantee that the new Solicitor-General’s selection process is not compromised by Senator Brandis’s personal direction.

“I ask that the position be advertised, and a selection panel overseen by the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet be used to determine the shortlist which is put to Cabinet,” he wrote.

The Coalition senator Ian Macdonald, who led the attack on Gleeson in parliamentary hearings, said on Tuesday he admired Gleeson for stepping aside because it was the right thing to do.

“I warned the references committee [which has carriage of this matter and on which there is a Labor/Greens majority] that having a public hearing into this matter would end in disaster – as it has.

“I also tried to have the evidence of the solicitor general and attorney general taken in camera to protect the offices both men hold under the constitution, but was outvoted.

“I thought the solicitor general erred in allowing himself to be embroiled, wittingly or unwittingly, in what was clearly a political attack by the Labor party on the attorney general,” he said.

The Light between the Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

By M.L. Stedman

Tie-in edition with the film adaptation of the global bestseller, The Light Between Oceans, one of the most successful Australian novels of recent years. Produced by Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and directed by Derek Cianfriance, the highly anticipated film stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weiss.


Tie-in edition with the film adaptation of the global bestseller, The Light Between Oceans, one of the most successful Australian novels of recent years. Produced by Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and directed by Derek Cianfrance, the highly anticipated film stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weiss.

They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.

1926. Tom Sherbourne is a young lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The only inhabitants of Janus Rock, he and his wife Isabel live a quiet life, cocooned from the rest of the world.

Then one April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying infant – and the path of the couple’s lives hits an unthinkable crossroads.

Only years later do they discover the devastating consequences of the decision they made that day – as the baby’s real story unfolds …

Winner of three ABIA awards for Best Newcomer, Best Literary Novel and Book of the Year
Winner of two Indie Awards for Best Debut and Book of the Year
Winner of the Nielsen BookData Bookseller’s Choice Award for 2013
Voted Historical Novel of 2012 by GoodReads’ reading community




October 17, 2016

Vintage Australia

RRP $22.99

Buy now



December 3, 2012

Vintage Australia

RRP $22.99

Buy now



March 20, 2012

RHA eBooks Adult

Buy now


16th December 1918
‘Yes, I realise that,’ Tom Sherbourne said. He was sitting in a spartan room, barely cooler than the sultry day outside. The Sydney summer rain pelted the window, and sent the people on the pavement scurrying for shelter.
‘I mean very tough.’ The man across the desk leaned forward for emphasis. ‘It’s no picnic. Not that Byron Bay’s the worst posting on the Lights, but I want to make sure you know what you’re in for.’ He tamped down the tobacco with his thumb and lit his pipe. Tom’s letter of application had told the same story as many a fellow’s around that time: born 28 September 1893; war spent in the Army; experience with the International Code and Morse; physically fit and well; honourable discharge. The rules stipulated that preference should be given to ex-servicemen.
‘It can’t—’ Tom stopped, and began again. ‘All due respect, Mr Coughlan, it’s not likely to be tougher than the Western Front.’
The man looked again at the details on the discharge papers, then at Tom, searching for something in his eyes, in his face. ‘No, son. You’re probably right on that score.’ He rattled off some rules:
‘You pay your own passage to every posting. You’re relief, so you don’t get holidays. Permanent staff get a month’s leave at the end of each three-year contract.’ He took up his fat pen and signed the form in front of him. As he rolled the stamp back and forth across the inkpad he said, ‘Welcome’ – he thumped it down in three places on the paper – ‘to the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service.’ On the form, ‘16th December 1918’ glistened in wet ink.


Your questions about her incredible novel, The Light Between Oceans, answered.


M.L. Stedman’s breathtaking debut novel is an inspired book club selection.



The Indie Awards



Miles Franklin Award



Work has commenced on the $6.5 million Coffs Harbour Airport airside and terminal upgrade Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser said today.

Mr Fraser said the groundwork, being undertaken by Coffs Harbour City Council which is delivering the project, was underway to upgrade the airside and terminal.

“This investment by the NSW Government will boost tourism and business investment in the area, paving the way for more local jobs and economic return.  Coffs Harbour Airport plays a crucial role in the long term viability and growth of the local Coffs Harbour economy and is an essential entry point to the region, providing services to more than 350,000 passengers annually,” Mr Fraser said.

“The Coffs Harbour Airport upgrade was supported by the $110 million Restart NSW Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund which funds projects, such as rail trails, regional airports and cruise infrastructure,” Mr Fraser said.

“The upgrade will allow more aircraft to be on the tarmac at the airport and provide a greater capacity to process increased visitor numbers in the terminal. It is expected to create around 80 ongoing jobs once the project is complete.  The Coffs Harbour Airport upgrade will extend the runway apron area and upgrade the terminal facilities to help improve services for locals and visitors,” he said.

Minister for Regional Development, John Barilaro, said the Government’s record investment in regional infrastructure continues to give people in regional NSW access to better and safer services, and more opportunities for employment.

“This is just another example of how the NSW Government is delivering more jobs, new business opportunities and a greater standard of living for the people of regional NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Regional NSW is an economic powerhouse and the NSW Government will continue to invest for the long term building the skills and confidence our regional communities need to create and grow jobs for now and for the future.”

As part of its focus on driving regional infrastructure investment, the NSW Government is delivering:

  • $6 billion under Rebuilding NSW
  • $240 million for mining affected communities under the Resources for Regions Fund
  • $110 million under the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund
  • $92 million with the Commonwealth and carriers under Round One of the Commonwealth’s Mobile Black Spots Program
  • $32 million through the Commonwealth’s Murray Darling Basin Economic Diversification Fund



Ulong Public School and Woolgoolga Public School have each received a $3,500 NSW Government Eco Schools grant to add to their respective school gardens, Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser said.

The Eco Schools Grant Program aims to instil environmental awareness and appreciation in school communities.

Mr Fraser said the NSW Environmental Trust grants would help Ulong Public School and Woolgoolga Public School to implement local and practical environmental education initiatives.

“Ulong Public School’s project, a Gumbaynggirr Garden aims to incorporate a sensory garden using local native plants, herbs and bush tucker plants and Woolgoolga Public School’s project will update their existing garden beds to create a bush tucker and herb garden, extend their vegetable garden by creating a small citrus orchard and herb garden and the introduction of worm farms to help fertilise and gardens,” Mr Fraser said.

“The school children participating in these grassroots environmental projects are likely to transfer their learnings to friends and families.”

Grants of $3500 were awarded to 80 schools including 22 to schools catering for special needs.

Environment Minister Mark Speakman said the Eco Schools grants would help young people to learn and value the natural environment.

“These grants help educate students on the importance of protecting the environment for future generations,” Mr Speakman said.



Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser today welcomed a $46 million NSW Liberals & Nationals Government program to boost student learning through better technology in regional and remote public schools.

“All 26 schools in the Coffs Harbour electorate will share in the Connecting Country Schools program which will upgrade schools’ Wi-Fi access and internet capacity,” Mr Fraser said.

“Digital technology is vital to student learning in a modern education system. This upgrade will allow for wireless speeds four times faster than currently available.

“High-quality internet capacity is increasingly important for effective learning in today’s classrooms, where digital resources are a vital component of education.

“To ensure schools make best use of their upgraded wireless and internet capability, they will be required to make an application and consult with their school community to identify how they intend to use the technology to improve teaching and learning.”

Mr Fraser said not only would this increased technological capacity benefit students, it will promote even more innovative classroom practices among teachers.


“There is a learning gap between rural and metropolitan students which needs to be addressed. Country students deserve educational infrastructure that is as good as their city cousins,” Mr Fraser said.


The Connecting Country Schools program will invest up to $46 million to boost wireless access and internet capacity in up to 13,000 learning spaces in around 900 regional schools.


Connecting Country Schools builds on the achievements made since 2013 under the NSW Government’s $80 million Rural and Remote Education Blueprint. The Blueprint used the benefits of technology to establish Aurora College, Australia’s first virtual selective high school giving country students access to specialist subjects and opportunities not available at their local school.