AFTER years of ups and downs, Bundaberg Regional Council is finally claiming a win in its battle against the forced fluoridation of its water.
In legislation before the state parliament last night, the decision on whether to fluoridate or not was handed back to local governments.
Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said he was “absolutely ecstatic” at the move.
“As an MP I’ve fought for this before the election and for the past eight months,” he said.
“I feel glad that we’re delivering for the Bundaberg and Burnett electorates.”
Mr Bennett said the state government had taken on board the views of the community and the amendments to the Water Fluoridation Act 2008 would promote local-level decision-making.
“The proposed amendments to the Act will now ensure that the decision on whether to fluoridate a water supply is made by local government; and it will be local government’s obligation to determine what is in the best interests of the community when deciding whether to fluoridate or not,” he said..
But Bundaberg Health Promotions chairman Martin Strahan, a pro-fluoride advocate, was disappointed.
“Now Bundaberg, as well as being the fat capital of Australia, can become the dentistry capital of Australia,” he said.
Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman, though, was all in favour of the change.
“It’s great news,” he said.
“It will save us quite a substantial amount of money, particularly with the recurrent costs each year.”
Cr Forman said the whole of Bundaberg Regional Council and the community had been behind the fight to avoid fluoridation.
“I do know that Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey have been fighting behind the scenes as well,” he said.
Council water and wastewater spokesman Alan Bush, a leading member of the fight against fluoridation, said he had been extremely frustrated recently with the state government indicating that if the council did not accept funding to undertake treatment of the water it may have seen that funding withdrawn and the council forced to proceed with the policy at its own cost.
“The strong advocacy made by council, the representations of Steve Bennett and the vocal opinions of the people of Bundaberg have all played a role in this decision,” Cr Bush said.
He said the council would save about $800,000 a year in operational costs.