A FLUORIDE debate is raging across Queensland and parts of northern NSW, where health chiefs have joined those in Victoria in seeking to force the introduction of fluoride.
North East Water has been instructed by the Victorian Government to fluoridate Wodonga and Wangaratta water supplies as soon as possible.
It is expected the necessary works will be done within six months, and that other towns such as Yarrawonga and Benalla will follow suit.
The Bracks Government has decreed fluoridation must be done and that the decision has been made, though the anti-fluoride lobby continues its campaign.
An estimated 77 per cent of Victorians use fluoridated water, with Geelong, Ballarat, Benalla, Warrnambool and Wodonga being notable exceptions.
In Gippsland, the towns of Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Sale, Traralgon, Morwell, Wonthaggi and Leongatha are still fluoride-free.
Albury has had fluoride for many years and about 90 per cent of the NSW population, mostly in Sydney, is believed to be drinking fluoride.
The NSW Government this year forced Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and Hastings councils to introduce fluoride by November 30.
Recently the NSW director general of health, Robyn Kruk, directed nearby Bellingen council to do likewise.
Byron Bay council this year refused to introduce fluoride but debate continues in other northern towns such as Lismore as officials try to convince communities to accept it.
As in Victoria, the NSW Government is paying for the conversion to fluoride.
Queensland has the worst record on introducing fluoride but the Beattie Government this year gave councils five years to take up funding to introduce it or face mandatory introduction.
Premier Peter Beattie has led the calls to introduce fluoride and is aware that Brisbane is the only capital city in Australia without it.
Canberra and Hobart introduced fluoride in 1964, Sydney and Perth in 1968, Adelaide in 1971 and Melbourne in 1977.
Mr Beattie hopes his health officials can persuade communities to accept the change.
A Queensland law that makes a referendum mandatory before councils can introduce fluoride to water will be changed to make a referendum optional.