THE Shooters and Christian Democrats MPs say they will support a Labor Bill to take responsibility for the fluoridation of water off councils through the upper house, putting further pressure on Premier Barry O’Farrell on the issue.
Premier O’Farrell made clear yesterday he has no intention of moving to take responsibility for the fluoridation of water off local councils and give it to his government- despite a decision by Lismore Council last week to ban the fluoridation of water.
But the Premier will continue to come under pressure on the issue, with the Federal Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, saying yesterday that every dollar spent on fluoridating Australia’s water supply saved up to $80 in dental treatment costs alone.
Estimated savings ranged from $12 to $80 per dollar of fluoridation costs, with the greatest benefits for the most disadvantaged parts of the community who were more susceptible to tooth decay.
“In 2002, the Victorian government estimated that over the past 25 years, fluoridation saved the Victorian community nearly $1 billion in avoided dental costs, lost productivity and saved leisure time,” he said.
He added that a “recent and thorough” analysis of fluoride in drinking water by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand found no evidence of any harmful effects.
So confident was the department of its findings that it approved the addition of fluoride into bottled water available for retail sale.
The Premier appeared to move away from Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s announcement of a discussion paper to examine whether the state should take control, saying the current arrangements have been in place since 1957 and nothing should change.
“You either believe in our system of government which involves federal state and local [tiers] or you don’t,” the Premier said.
“Already we have delivered the current system through local councils. It’s appropriate local councils should continue to make these decisions.
He claimed Lismore Council was likely to rescind its motion at a meeting soon so the issue may turn into a “storm in a teacup”.
Shooters MP Robert Borsak and Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile said yesterday they would back oppositoin health spokesman Andrew McDonald’s Bill to take the responsibility over fluoridation off local governments, putting pressure on the Premier to pass the Bill through the lower house.
“Why do you need a review?” Mr Borsak said.
Mr McDonald said that with the crossbench support, the Premier would be in a position where he would either have to support the proposal or “vote it down on the floor of the lower house”.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said fluoridation of drinking water “provides the most effective and socially equitable means of preventing tooth decay”.
“There is no valid scientific or health evidence that appropriately managed fluoridation of drinking water supplies will cause negative health effects,” she said.
National Health and Medical Research Council CEO Warwick Anderson also weighed into the debate, saying critics’ claims that fluoridated water was a threat to human health had been scientifically proven to be unfounded.
“At high levels of fluoridation, such as can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, people can experience dental fluorosis and possibly skeletal fluorosis,” he said.
“These are a low risk in Australia due to strategies of monitoring the concentration of water fluoridation depending on climate and geography, having low fluoride toothpaste for children under 6, and low fluoride concentrations in milk formula.”