THE Labor Government will fund infrastructure for adding fluoride to public drinking water after more councils decided to scrap the initiative in recent months.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement today at the Local Government Association of Queensland’s annual conference on the Gold Coast.
It comes ahead of a council debate at the conference about whether the State Government should pay for all costs of adding fluoride to water if it is made mandatory.
Ms Palaszczuk denied there were any plans to change the current legislative arrangements.
“However, we do not want the infrastructure costs associated with fluoridating the water to be a barrier for councils when considering this introduction,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Mackay and Gladstone regional councils recently voted against continuing to add fluoride to the water amid community support to scrap the initiative.
The councils are now part of the 53 out of the state’s 77 that have chosen to avoid the practice. However, some of those councils already have small levels of naturally occurring fluoride in the water supply.
Ms Palaszczuk said the State Government would fund the infrastructure costs for adding fluoride to water through a similar grants scheme to the one that was axed under the Newman Government before many smaller councils had the opportunity to take advantage of the funding.
It is unclear how many Queensland councils still lack the appropriate infrastructure, nor how much it would cost to implement.
“In the near future we will finalise the structure of the grants program and consult with interested councils’, Ms Palaszczuk said.
“It will be capped and priority will be given to small councils with limited financial capacity.”
The Australia Dental Association has long backed the fluoridation of water supplies, demanding the State Government take back control of the initiative after it was made optional under the Newman Government.
However, anti-fluoride groups have labelled the practice as “unethical mass medication” without the “express consent of the community.”