The Byron Mayor says the shire is happy to be a ‘black sheep’ on the issue of fluoridation.
The north coast council today voted 5-3 against a motion to add fluoride to its water supply.
Fluoridated water is already available to about 95 per cent of people living in New South Wales.
But Simon Richardson says that trend is not mirrored overseas.
“Byron is actually in keeping with where the rest of the world is going,” he said.
“Australian and New South Wales are actually an anomaly when it comes to global fluoridation and water treatment.
“Israel just a month ago withdrew fluoride from its water, over 90 per cent of Europe has no fluoridation.
“So if we compare ourselves to Sydney we are the odd council out, but I think if you look globally we are in step.”
Cr Richardson wants the shire to be a test case for alternatives to fluoridation.
He says the State Government’s offer to help pay for fluoridation infrastructure should be extended to cover alternative strategies.
“Going back to some of those less glamorous and less engineered solutions like dental-health check ups (at) our primary schools.,” Cr Richardson said.
“Again the Gen-Xers and Boomers, we had far more education as far as far as ongoing check ups and dental services made available to us.
“So let’s go backwards in a sense to be progressive.”
Byron Shire councillor Dianne Woods says the mayor’s plan is a pie-in-the-sky idea.
Cr Woods put forward the unsuccessful motion to introduce fluoride.
She says the State Government won’t agreed to fund an alternative scheme.
“No matter what other idea that they come up with that’s pie-in-the-sky like the mayor’s doing, and good luck to him because we really do need more dental care up here, but it’s just not going to work,” Cr Woods said.
“We’re not going to get it.”
Cr Woods was in tears when speaking to the media after the decision.
She says local councillors should not be put under the sort of pressure she’s had to endure.
“This State Government is more and more cowardly with decision making,” Cr Woods said.
“They just will not make strategic decisions.
“All they’re interested in doing is changing the name of RMS and doing away with CMA and calling it something else.
“They’re not making any strategic decisions.”
The council’s decision was greeted with raucous applause from a packed public gallery.
Anti-fluoride campaigner Andy Holm was among those who addressed the meeting.
He says it was a landmark decision.
“I think that this day is actually one of the most important days in the life of Byron Bay,” Mr Holm said.
“This is much bigger than a Club Med, this is much bigger than a McDonalds’ drive-through, this is about our health.”
The local head of the Australian Dental Association told the meeting children needing dental surgery in a public hospital on the Northern Rivers may have to wait up to a year.
Doctor Brendan White was heckled as he spoke in favour of fluoridation.
But he says he’ll continue to campaign, because local rates of childhood decay are among the worst in the state.
“There are about 100 children in our area on the public waiting list right now waiting for general anaesthetics for dental reasons,” Dr White said.
“The private waiting list, if you can afford it, in our area is through to about February, March.
“But those patients have to be able to pay to go to hospital to have the work done.”