The NSW Health Minister says the Tweed Shire won’t be able to reverse a decision on fluoride in the local water supply. Meanwhile a Byron Shire councillor is calling for more facts on fluoride’s benefits and safety issues.
The Tweed Shire currently puts fluoride in its water but a councillor has put up a motion to debate the issue and to look at other options.
At Byron Shire the council will also this week vote on a motion for councillors to be briefed further on the pros and cons of fluoride.
The NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said once a council has begun the process of fluoridation it can’t be stopped.
“They can have the debate but the reality is the, the law says, the legislation says currently without any change that once fluoridation has begun, that cannot be reversed,” she said.
Ms Skinner said she’d prefer to persuade rather than overrule local councils and ultimately councils can opt out of the decision-making process.
“This is the law now and this is an option open to them, and exercised I understand by some, where the director-general is then obliged to discuss this with an expert panel and come to a conclusion.
“So if a council feels intimidated, or does not want to make that decision, they have a choice.”
The government has also pledged $5million to pay for fluoridation plants in 15 communities which have opted not to add the chemical to their water.
It’s not known whether any of that money will be spent on the four dosing plants need to keep fluoride out of the Byron Shire’s water.
Shadow Health Minister Andrew Mcdonald said the government’s offer won’t solve the problem.
He said the government needs to intervene and take responsibility for the state’s health.
“The solution to the problem is for the State Government to take responsibility for fluoridation of the water, it’s pointless offering councils money to fluoridate their water if they choose not to fluoridate it, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“Councils are choosing not to fluoridate their water for philosophical reasons rather than financial.”
Byron councillor Diane Woods said the shire needs more information about the advantages and disadvantages of water fluoridation.
“We’ve never been formally advised by the professionals as to the benefits of fluoridating the water and safety issues,” she said.
“I’d like to hear from those people who are opposed to it with real facts.”
Ms Woods said the council is in a difficult position.
“If our debate turns out that the five hands that go against it are the majority vote well then it’s obvious that we won’t go any further with it, and that will be a shame for the majority of our community.
“It’s unfair of us to make a decision that will affect the marginalised people, I mean people who can’t afford to go to the dentist.”