News stories – Councillors set to vote on fluoride issue

This article was originally published in print in The Herbert River Express on March 25 2017

HINCHINBROOK Shire Council Councillors will cast their votes for or against the removal of fluoride in the town’s water supply on Tuesday.

Nearly 51 per cent of residents opposed fluoridated water in a ratepayer funded phone poll by ReachTel last month.

If council decides to remove fluoride use in the water supply it could cost ratepayers $50,000 to decommission the fluoride plant. But if council goes against the latest survey findings, it will continue to cost $141,000 per year to add fluoride to the reticulated water system.

Hinchinbrook Shire Council Mayor Ramon Jayo said a decision in relation to fluoride will be taken just like any other resolution and that is by all councillors casting a vote.

“The outcome will be determined by a majority vote and as per normal process the decision is known immediately as voting is concluded,” Cr Jayo said. “The matter has been listed for determination in the forthcoming general meeting.

“There is nothing peculiar about a resolution on this matter and it will be dealt with in accordance with normal process and procedure.”

Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food president Merilyn Haines said she hoped councillors would respect the community’s decision, which was in favour of removing the controversial chemical.

She said in comparison to the Mackay survey conducted last September, where the fluoride was removed, results showed that nearly 47 per cent opposed fluoridation in Mackay’s town water supply.

While 57 per cent were concerned for the health impacts of fluoride in the water in Mackay, nearly 64 per cent was surveyed in the Hinchinbrook poll.

“The power of those surveys was high, so statistically very significant,” Ms Haines said.

“There was even more people in the Hinchinbrook showing they were opposed to fluoridation.

The Local Government Association of Queensland and the Queensland Government position statement from 2003 showed without with express consent of the community fluoridation was unethical mass medication.”

Australian Dental Association spokesman Dr Michael Foley said he appreciated councillors had been placed in a difficult position by the State Government’s inaction on water fluoridation.

“I ask them to look at the big picture and vote as required to do by the current State Government legislation and in the best interests of their community,” Dr Foley said.

“Every other leading health and scientific authority in Australia supports water fluoridation and strongly urges communities to fluoridate their water supplies. But some councillors may feel bound by their own phone poll showing that a small majority of local residents oppose water fluoridation.”

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