The six Queensland councils removing fluoride from drinking water are “making a terrible mistake”, according to the state’s highest-profile dentist – Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek.
Mr Langbroek said the councils were ignoring the dental health of children in their regions.
“These councils are making poor, ill-judged decisions that are having long-term ramifications for their children,” he said.
“I think these councils are making a terrible mistake that is affecting their children and the most vulnerable in their communities.”
Tablelands, South Burnett, Cairns, Burdekin, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast councils have voted to remove fluoride from drinking water.
By 2012, 87 per cent of Queenslanders had fluoride in their drinking water.
Mr Langbroek – free to express his view on the issue because it was not a decision of cabinet to remove fluoride – said the councils had made very bad decisions.
He deflected the issue when asked if the legislation, introduced by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg in November 2012, to let councils remove fluoride was misguided.
“It is really a reflection of the previous government’s way of mandating things and not consulting local governments,” he said.
“Had they done it (introducing fluoride) in a more consultative way, we wouldn’t be having these emotive debates.”
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Langbroek could not have it both ways.
“As a dentist he knows the benefit of having fluoride, so he should not have supported the legislation,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said she believed the LNP misunderstood the ramifications of their own legislation.
“And they are actually allowing these councils to take Queensland backwards,” she said.
“We know the benefits that fluoride brings – and having grown up in Brisbane, without fluoride, we’ve missed out until Labor introduced it.”
Mr Langbroek, a dentist from 1987 until elected MP for Surfers Paradise in 2004, said the benefits of fluoride were realised over time.
“They help the people who can least help themselves,” Mr Langbroek said.
He said Queensland had dental decay rates worse than other states.
He said the National Health and Medical Research Council made it clear that fluoride was safe to take in almost all cases.
“They have looked at 700 studies about fluoride and they (NHMRC) could not find one study that one health side effect was caused by fluoride,” he said.
Mr Langbroek acknowledged people did have opposing views.
“But here we have people who are refusing to consider science and are just throwing it out the back door.”
Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell yesterday criticised his council for voting on Wednesday to remove fluoride from the water.
He said the issue should be decided by the State Government.
He supports fluoridating water, citing the overwhelming amount of medical and scientific evidence that it’s a safe and sustainable way to reduce tooth decay among the population.
“I voted not to cease fluoridation. I’ve been defeated,” Mr O’Connell told AAP.
Health Minsister Lawrence Springborg was unavailable for interview last night.
The ALP voted in 2008 to steadily introduce fluoride across Queensland by 2012.
The Australian Medical Association, the World Health Organisation and the Australian Dental Association all report fluoride in drinking water is beneficial.
Its opponents, including the Fluoride Action Network, say it should not be given to children and has caused increasing bone cancers in the United States.
Councils which have removed fluoride:
- Tablelands Dec 20
- South Burnett Jan 16
- Cairns Jan 30
- Burdekin Feb 12
- Bundaberg Feb 16
- Fraser Coast Feb 20