AN at times emotional debate culminated on Monday night with Hastings Council referring fluoridation to an expert panel.
The council will approach the NSW government to establish the panel to advise on whether there is a strong case for fluoridation.
If a strong case is found, the council will take up the Mid-North Coast Area Health Service’s offer to fully fund the capital costs and seek a subsidy to cover all recurrent costs.
Mayor Rob Drew spoke in favour of the expert panel option.
The mayor said despite countless hours of reading, watching and listening to the debate, he was not an expert on fluoridation.
The medical experts, he said, had offered a united voice on the public health crisis.
“If we choose, I believe, to ignore their advice, we are heading down a road of stupidity and that must be avoided at all costs,” Cr Drew said.
Cr Lisa Intemann argued against fluoridation: “It is ludicrous to say that no-fluoridationists, such as I now class myself, are scaremongering.
“I am just the potential receiver of this deadly poison in low doses.”
Following a push from Cr Intemann, the panel will investigate a series of issues including results of chronic toxicity studies.
Meanwhile, Cr Adam Prussing said the council was dealing with a very technical issue.
“As a council we have to refer that decision to the body that’s qualified to make it,” he said.
Cr Rob Nardella agreed that after three weeks the councillors were not experts.
Meanwhile, Cr Daphne Johnston, who voted in favour of the panel, added she had taken the advice of medicos on the issue.
“I feel like a bit of a hypocrite if I vote for this because I’ve never believed in mass medication,” she added.
Cr Jamie Harrison told the meeting that putting fluoride in the water supply was removing people’s ability to have a choice, while Cr Cameron Price spoke about his concerns regarding lack of public debate.
Cr Price said: “There was a poll in 1991 that came out with a definite result, so what mandate does council have to make a decision contrary to that without going back to the people and asking them?”
Cr Bob Sharpham pointed out if a serious problem existed in Sydney, which had fluoridated water, then we would all know about it.
Meanwhile, Cr David Mayne said yesterday the council had shown maturity and insight in letting a varied and qualified expert panel examine the relevant information and make a recommendation based on scientific fact.
A report will be brought back to the council about the chronology of its involvement with the issue.