Fluoride Action Network

Anti-fluoride group denied referendum

Source: Otago Daily Times | July 21st, 2008 | By David Loughrey
Location: New Zealand

Anti-fluoride campaigners on Dunedin’s northern coast look set to be denied the public referendum they want on the issue, despite a 222-signature petition they collected.

Instead, the Ministry of Health and Public Health South will be invited to brief elected officials on the public health reasons to fluoridate public water supplies and address arguments opposing the practice.

In March, Olive McRae presented the Dunedin City Council infrastructure services committee with a petition calling for consultation before fluoridated water was piped to townships along the Waikouaiti coast, from Waitati to Waikouaiti.

Ms McRae, of Waitati, said those who signed were not happy about the prospect of being supplied with “medicated” water.

Water from Dunedin city’s fluoridated supply will be piped northwards in a new $9.3 million scheme that is replacing small, local, unfluoridated supplies.

Water from the scheme is expected to start flowing in September of August.

A report to today’s infrastructure services committee said submissions opposing fluoridation were heard from a group of residents from the area at the city’s annual plan, and again at the Waikouaiti Coast Community Board.

The board requested the council initiate a referendum.

However, a report by council water production manager Gerard McCombie said removing fluoride from the northern scheme, which takes water from the fluoridated city scheme, would be expensive.

Investigations indicated “that from a practical point of view, there are really only two viable options – citywide fluoridation, or citywide non-fluoridation”.

Ms McRae yesterday criticised the report, and said the community had made it clear through the community board it wanted a referendum.

She said the Ministry of Health and Public Health South briefing would be flawed, because both sides of the argument would not be aired.

Infrastructure services committee chairman Cr Andrew Noone said yesterday he attended a meeting of about 40 people in March, but only heard the anti-fluoride argument.

Until councillors were briefed on the issue, they could not make a decision on the referendum.

“My personal view is any referendum should be citywide.

“We’re not going to be able to please everyone.”