PREMIER Steve Bracks said he would expect the Ballarat community to support the introduction of fluoride it’s water if a vote was taken on the issue today.
But the Premier gave no commitment on whether a referendum would play a part in the State Government’s planned community consultation process on introducing fluoridation in Ballarat.
The last referendum on fluoridation was held on February 24, 1978, when residents rejected the idea by an average of 15 to one at a council poll.
Former Ballarat resident Mr Bracks said the case for fluoridation was “overwhelming” and felt confident the community would back that evidence.
But the Premier ruled out imposing the fluoridation of Ballarat’s water without community support, echoing the words of Health Minister Bronwyn Pike who said it was up to residents to first debate the pros and cons of the issue.
“I think the argument for fluoridation is overwhelming and it would help the Ballarat population in having less dental work done in the future and healthier teeth,” Premier Bracks said.
“Scientific studies have shown there are no adverse health effects from fluoride in water.
“It’s been in the Melbourne water supply for many years and Ballarat is one of only a few water suppliers not to do it.
“The government will consult with the community, we won’t be forcing this on them but we do believe the case for is strong.”
On the subject of a possible referendum, the Premier said he vividly recalled the last one to be held in Ballarat on fluoridation which was lost.
“It’s a long time since their was a referendum in Ballarat. I have a long enough memory to remember the last one which I think was about 15 years ago and was voted against at that time,” he said.
“But I think time has moved on and people have seen the benefits of fluoridation in the water supply.
“They can see it in the healthiness of their children’s teeth and I believe there will be community support for such a move today because the case is so strong.”
A spokesman from Ms Pike’s office said the Health Minister would seek public comment on fluoridation in Ballarat by talking with MPs and stakeholders.
Mayor David Vendy said he supported the idea of a referendum provided it was funded by the State Government.
“It would give people the chance to make up their mind,” he said.