Crown land reprieve
IRIS GOLDSTEIN yesterday breathed a sigh of relief as she was delivered the news that common sense had finally prevailed. NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced this weekend that non-profit groups occupying Crown land would be exempt from rental increases that resulted from recent reforms. And to president of the Bellingen Country Women's Association (CWA), this was great news for Mrs Goldstein. "I'm going to cry," she said on being informed of the decision by the Coffs Coast Advocate. "I'm speechless. Everyone is going to be over the moon. My feeling was that we wouldn't hear a final decision for a while yet, but I never gave up hope that the right one would be made." The Bellingen CWA was put in a spin recently when they received a bill of $12,512 for the Crown land in Church Street, where their rooms are situated. Their normal rent was $170. "If that was what we had to pay, we couldn't have gone on doing what we do," Mrs Goldstein said. The Bellingen CWA members are involved in a variety of activities from Meals on Wheels to reading groups in schools, to raising funds for the hospital. Not wanting to get too excited, Mrs Goldstein first needed to know what they will have to pay now. According to Mr Iemma, the CWA will return to paying normal rent. "That is fantastic. I'm speechless again," Mrs Goldstein said, but admits that won't stop her from getting straight on the phone to share the good news with her fellow members. Premier Morris Iemma said the move was a compassionate and common sense solution that would see these non-profit volunteer organisations with fair and reasonable access to Crown land. "These organisations are the fabric of our rural and regional communities," he said.