It looks likely Rotorua residents will be asked in a referendum if we want fluoride in our water.
Let’s hope it’s not going to be an issue that divides our community and results in costly legal challenges and ugly protests.
It’s already a contentious topic, with a narrow vote yesterday at the Rotorua District Council’s meeting to decide the best way forward.
By just one vote – a casting vote from the council committee’s chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait – councillors voted in favour of holding a binding referendum.
Councillor Karen Hunt abstained from voting because although she accepted that fluoride “was very good for your teeth” she could not accept either side of the argument. As an elected representative we expect her to make decisions, and this wasn’t an issue for or against fluoride, it was deciding whether we should have a binding referendum. Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson is still on the fence about fluoride yet he managed to vote.
It’s interesting to note previous referendums have been far from close with those in Whakatane voting for fluoride in water 6362 to 4154, Hamilton voting for fluoride 24,635 votes to 11,768 and Hastings voting for fluoride 9512 votes to 5461.
Readers on our website are clear they want fluoride and don’t want a referendum, with 48 per cent voting yes to fluoride and no to a referendum, 14 per cent voting yes to fluoride and yes to a referendum, 24 per cent voting no to fluoride and no to a referendum and 12 per cent voting no to fluoride and no to a referendum. There were 2 per cent who didn’t know. The poll had between 150 and 200 voters.
Councillor Charles Sturt hit the nail on the head when he said locals would be “aghast” the council would spend up to $100,000 on the referendum when jobs were being cut.
Surely when our debt levels are at such levels, our councillors can be trusted to get the facts from the right sources and make a decision.
If the council was really against making the call, perhaps Councillor Peter Bentley’s suggestion of holding the referendum at the next local body elections in 2016 is not a silly idea.