Fluoridating the water supply was one of Anna Bligh’s first major moves as premier.
Fluoride, economic upheaval, cost complaints, disaster and triumph – Anna Bligh’s 4½ years as Queensland premier has had its ups and downs.
Ms Bligh – who admits she faces the fight of her political life to fend off the resurgent Liberal National Party at the looming March 24 election – was long groomed to take over the premiership by her predecessor, Peter Beattie.
When she did finally take over the top job in September 2007, Ms Bligh was left with several pieces of unfinished business from the Beattie era. These included having to bed down the controversial council amalgamations, finish building the water grid conceived at the height of the drought (thereby pushing up household water prices), and tackle persistent problems with Queensland Health.
But Ms Bligh, Queensland’s first female premier, also quickly sought to differentiate herself from her mentor. It came in the form of fluoride. While Mr Beattie had offered rebates to councils that chose to fluoridate their waters supplies, Ms Bligh went the whole hog and decided to do it herself.
Her December 2007 decision, touted as a crucial step to improving children’s oral health, would see 80 per cent of Queenslanders drinking fluoridated water within two years and 90 per cent by 2012.