UNIONS have threatened industrial action if Ballarat’s water supply is fluoridated with no community vote.
The Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council on Friday called for a plebiscite to settle the issue.
Secretary Graeme Shearer said unions which would be involved in the installation of infrastructure for fluoridation, the CEPU electrical and plumbing divisions and Australian Services Union, supported the idea.
“I envisage there would be problems experienced in the installation of the equipment necessary to fluoridate the water if a plebiscite is not conducted,” he said.
But member for Western Region Jaala Pulford and Ballarat East MLA Geoff Howard said BRTLC members should be better informed about the case for fluoridation.
Mr Shearer said Labour Council delegates were not experts on fluoridation.
“They all have their individual opinions on the issue,” he said.
“What is obvious is that those groups for and against in the community are able to present very comdhpelling arguments to support their differing points of view.
“For that reason we believe there should be widespread community consultation followed by a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the Ballarat community.”
A plebiscite is the direct vote of all members of an electorate on an important public question.
Mr Shearer said the City of Ballarat and the State Government should develop a system that allowed Ballarat residents to vote.
But Ms Pulford and Mr Howard both endorsed the proposal to fluoridate the city’s water supply following a meeting with Ballarat Health Services on Friday.
Ballarat West MLA Karen Overington was unable to attend due to illness.
Ms Pulford was alarmed to learn up to four preschool children had a general anaesthetic each week at BHS for dental problems.
She encouraged BRTLC members to attend the same BHS briefing.
Mr Howard shared Ms Pulford’s view, saying members should hear BHS’ case.
“The briefing for me was very convincing in that it was given by people who are clearly working in both the Ballarat dental area and broader health area,” he said.
Mr Howard said the briefing dispelled many of his doubts about fluoridation, and he would now work to “debunk some of the myths” circulating in the community.