South Canterbury’s water is unlikely to be fluoridated regardless of the outcome of the local government elections, South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) candidate statements suggest.
The Herald asked the 14 DHB candidates for their views on the controversial fluoridation issue.
A proposal to shift responsibility for fluoridation to health boards was announced earlier this year.
It followed the SCDHB voting to adopt a position statement to actively promote the benefits of fluoride in community water supplies in April. However, that position statement may not translate into action.
READ MORE: SCDHB supports fluoride benefits
Just one of the 12 SCDHB candidates who responded to the Herald’s questions was in actively in favour of fluoridation.
That was Kevin Foley, who said he agreed with the DHB’s current stance of promoting fluoridation.
“As a candidate for the SCDHB I rely on science in matters of health,” Foley said.
Six candidates opposed fluoridation, while four said more information was needed.
Incumbent Paul Annear was in favour of fluoridation being an individual choice, not “mass medicating”. He voted against the DHB position statement.
Greg O’Brien, incumbent Terry Kennedy, and Dave Jack were also against adding fluoride to the water supply, saying it should be a personal decision.
Rachel Tomkinson said the fluoride issue was the catalyst for her decision to stand.
“There is a better way than adding more chemicals to a rather chemical sodden society in improving oral and overall health.”
Incumbent Ron Luxton said public consultation and debate would be needed the Government’s proposal passed.
Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, Luxton said his view would be determined by a range of factors.
“If you’re asking if I’m anti-fluoride, no I’m not,” he said.
He did not vote on whether to adopt the DHB’s position statement as he was chairing the meeting, he said.
Incumbent Murray Roberts voted in favour of the DHB’s position statement, but was undecided on whether fluoridation should go ahead.
“I’m totally either way, I don’t know.I don’t believe anybody can make a blanket statement right now.”
For incumbent Rene Crawford, more evidence was needed.
“I feel that it is important that all the evidence and the quality of this evidence for and against fluoridation is fully understood and analysed before any decision is made regarding fluoridating any water supply.”
Incumbent Peter Binns supported increased provision of basic dental care, but voted against the DHB promoting fluoridation of water supplies.
Joy Paterson said she had not formed an opinion on the issue.
“I expect to be fully briefed if I am elected, carry out my research and will determine my position at that time.”
Rebecca Jackson said she was not adverse to fluoride but felt the water should be left alone.
The statements have left a long-time Timaru anti-fluoride campaigner “thrilled”. Imelda Hitchcock has railed against the use of fluoride for decades.
“I’m very pleased there are so many who have the sense to see we shouldn’t have it in the water,” she said.
Current chairman Murray Cleverley and candidate Raeleen de Joux did not respond to the Herald’s questions by deadline.