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For three generations the Clinton family have been farming in the Camden and Wollondilly areas, but with the recent land valuations and a significant increase in rates, they are asking if they can sustain it without a more equitable rating system.

Neville Clinton and his son Josh run the Australian White Sheep Stud at The Oaks on 360 acres with 500 animals; they recently received their rates notice which saw a 27.5 per cent hike equating to almost $8000 for the year. They know they aren’t the only farmers experiencing increased rates and are wondering if it is now the time the council and the community have to make a choice.

“You have a municipality like Wollondilly shire, saying that we want this to be rural community; but they are doing nothing to assist the generational farmers,” Neville Clinton said.

“We consider ourselves generational farmers. There are lots of them in the area, because it is a very old area.

“When they can mandate a rate rise of 27.5 per cent and when the economic situation is so dire, we have been through a three year drought, we have had fires, we have had floods and most people are in debt to try and keep their stock to a level where they can maintain a business, it will take years to replace that stock and then they impose this sort of rate rise without any consideration of all those factors.”

The higher rates are a result of the increase in land values in Wollondilly.

Mr Clinton and his son Josh also put that down to speculator farms. Farmland bought for high prices by investors hoping the land is eventually rezoned for subdivision – more often than not these large parcels of land are left vacant with little or no maintenance – but are a contributing factor to increased land values and rates

Parents and young people are being urged to know the symptoms and act fast if they suspect meningococcal disease to help prevent premature death or life-long disability. Late winter and early spring, is when infections tend to increase, and risk is greatest for children under five and for 15-24-year-olds.

Last year, there were 59 meningococcal cases in NSW and four in South Western Sydney Local Health District.

Symptoms usually start with a sudden fever, often with headache, nausea and drowsiness. Neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and a rash of reddish-purple spots or bruises may also develop quickly. Babies with the infection may be irritable, not feed properly or have an abnormal cry.

While it is a well-known symptom of meningococcal disease, the rash does not always occur, or may present late in the illness.

South Western Sydney Local Health District Director of Public Health Dr Naru Pal said seeking medical help urgently can be lifesaving.

“If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the rash – see a doctor urgently,” Dr Pal said.

“While the number and severity of symptoms can vary, if you suspect meningococcal disease, you need to act fast because meningococcal disease can cause death or permanent disability within hours if not treated.”

Meningococcal disease can be fatal in up to one in 10 cases, and one in five infections result in permanent disabilities, including learning difficulties, sight and hearing problems, liver and kidney failure, loss of fingers, toes and limbs, or scarring caused by skin grafts.

“We strongly encourage vaccination as a key prevention against meningococcal disease,” Dr Pal said.

Under the National Immunisation Program, meningococcal ACWY (Men ACWY) vaccine is provided free for babies at 12 months, adolescents, and people of all ages with certain medical conditions. In NSW, the adolescent dose is delivered through the school vaccination program in Year 10.

As of 1 July 2020, Aboriginal children up to the age of two years, and people with certain medical conditions, can also access free meningococcal B (Men B) vaccine.

A parking meter situated close to the toilets at Burragorang Lookout is easy to miss if you are not looking for it; but it hasn’t escaped the notice or annoyance of locals who say it doesn’t belong in the area at all.

The machine was installed in June. It’s not the first time a visitor’s fee has been applied to the lookout – it has been in force since 2000, but in 2011 “ the fee collection infrastructure was temporarily removed as intermittent digital reception was unable to reliably support credit card payments” a spokesperson for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said.

The NPWS defended the fee highlighting it was in line with many national parks and especially since the site has been upgraded with a “new shelter” and increases accessibility along with the ongoing maintenance of”… toilet, barbecue and picnic facilities as well as the lookout platform”.

Many locals, some who are relations of the people who used to live in the valley before it was flooded, said the fee is contrary to what was promised.

Trish Hill from Wollondilly Heritage Centre and Museum said the lookout is for everyone and should be freely accessible.

“We have reunions here for families of the Burragorang Valley, whose properties were flooded.”

She said these families shouldn’t have to pay to look at the view and water which now covers their former properties.

Ms Hill the local community and tourists should be allowed to visit the area without incurring a charge.

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