THE Mount Isa branch of the Australian Labour Party weighed in on the fluoride debate last week when they requested council to defer introduction until the public had been educated.
ALP spokesperson Ron McCullough said the branch had taken no position on the issue but recognised some people may feel very strongly and need to voice concern before having fluoride imposed on the water system.
Mr McCullough said the decision of whether to introduce fluoride was not to be taken lightly, with financial and health impacts on communities.
“Too often decisions are taken in the interest of expediency, and people have suffered incredibly because of failure to adequately research the potential outcomes,” he said.
“Many people in Mount Isa have expressed their opposition to having fluoride introduced into the water supply, the least that can be done is to listen to their point of view and make decisions based on the validity of the arguments.”
Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady said the city had a unique situation many people were unaware of, in that the Mount Isa Water Board was in control of water, not the council.
“This is the first time since 1973 the current council has no representation on the water board,” he said.
“We’ve nominated two people to the State Government but they haven’t acted on our application, so they are still operating with two councillors from the previous government.”
Cr McGrady said the board had planned for an introduction of fluoride into the city’s water supply before the State Government transferred the onus to local councils.
He said this meant any costs which had already been incurred would need to be paid by the council, a sum he estimated to be at least $100,000.
“We won’t make any decisions until we can find out what the cost for ratepayers would be,” Cr McGrady said.
“At the moment the water board is making decisions which affect the ratepayers in the city but there are members on the board from the previous government and none from the current.”
Cr McGrady said as for public education on the impact of fluoride, it was up to the State Government.
“State Government are now saying to local councils that they will deal with fluoride but they should engage in a campaign which shows the benefits or otherwise of having it in our water,” he said.
“Always the negative viewpoints prevail but only one side of the story has really been told, and if you speak to dentists and health professionals they will say it’s a huge positive and 87 per cent of the state has it.”
Cr McGrady said the council would not make the decision to allow or halt the water board’s fluoride plans until he had more financial information.