Just over three years after voters gave a resounding ‘no’ vote to the addition of fluoride into Tenterfield’s water, Tenterfield Shire Council is predicting the controversial chemical will be introduced into the town’s water supply sometime within the first six months of 2009.
The NSW Department of Public Health has begun putting an increased pressure onto resistant councils to begin adding fluoride into their waters, the Tenterfield Shire Council included.
General Manager Don Ramsland said the council opposed the addition of fluoride into the town’s water, but could not override the Department of Public Health if the law became involved.
“Council is with its population who say they don’t want fluoride introduced into their water. We had a referendum and the community came out against it. But, council also cannot do something that is illegal,” Mr Ramsland said.
In the last 50 years, the issue of fluoride has been put to public vote on a number of occasions, most recently in the November 12, 2005 E Ward bi-election. Eighty per cent of the voters answered ‘no’ to the question of fluoride in Tenterfield, with 198 votes registered in favour of FLUORIDATION of the town water supply and 780 votes against.
If fluoride was to be introduced into the Tenterfield water supply, the NSW Department of Public Health would cover the initial costs of installing equipment. Once it is installed, Tenterfield Shire Council would be required to cover the ongoing costs of fluoridisation and associated machinery maintenance.
Vocal and prominent in the protests against fluoridation in 2005, Les Spencer labelled this latest development in the dispute over fluoride undemocratic and illegal.
“It’s wrong, totally wrong. To fluoridate the water against the people’s will is unlawful,” he said.
“It has gone to referendums in the past and the majority has said ‘no’. The people do not want it, so why should we have it? The whole think stinks, I think council should stand up against them [the Department of Public Health].”