MORE than 70 protesters filled Warrnambool’s council chambers last night as the campaign to crush moves to fluoridate the city’s water heated up.
A month after the councillors spurned a public rally on the controversial issue, the people decided to deliver their message directly to them.
They came with placards bearing slogans such as “Fluoride No – Democracy Yes” and “Represent or Resign.”
After an initial flurry of chatter as they made their way into the gallery, the crowd waited quietly for their chance to press the council.
When it finally arose, the failure to elicit any positive feedback from the council saw the audience’s anger and frustration boil over.
Interjections and shouting from the floor drew calls for order from Mayor David Atkinson.
Chief executive Lindsay Merritt declared the council was powerless to hold a referendum on an issue it did not oversee.
However, he also refused to answer a question from the head campaigner Peter Hulin, which caused ripples of public unrest.
Mr Merritt said a “full and detailed reply” to a query raised at the last meeting by Mr Hulin would soon be provided in writing.
The Warrnambool Fluoride Action Group convener said the response was typical of a council that was ignoring its ratepayers.
“Everybody here could see that they treat you with contempt. They don’t care what the people want,” Mr Hulin said.
The Greens candidate for Wannon, Lisa Owen singled out lack of public say on the issue. “I don’t think there was enough public consultation through the health plan feedback,” she said.