WATER fluoridation, crocodile-egg harvesting and youth empowerment were some of the big issues thrown at Queensland Premier Anna Bligh last night as she addressed the city’s Q2 forum at Rockhampton High School.
Jetting into Rockhampton late yesterday, Ms Bligh received a mixed reception from more than 100 locals who packed the hall last night.
The crowd was divided by applause when Rockhampton Regional Councillor Glenda Mather confronted Ms Bligh about fluoride in the city’s drinking water.
Cr Mather said forcing people to drink fluoride in the water supply was against civil liberties.
“You think there are health issues in our hospitals now; that is nothing compared to if we are made drink other chemicals in our water,” she said.
“It is not smart to make everyone drink fluoride when you want to target young children.
“Please consider it; it is not a smart move for Queensland, it is a step backwards.”
Ms Bligh told the applauding crowd that she had not taken the decision to fluoridate water lightly.
“The reality is that Queensland children have a 30% higher rate of tooth decay,” she said.
“I cannot look at figures on children with dental decay and not do anything. Queensland needs to take the leap forward that Australia took 40 years ago and put fluoride in drinking water.”
Koorana Crocodile Farm owner John Lever asked Ms Bligh why the Government restricted the collection of crocodile eggs in key parts of the state.
Ms Bligh said while she was aware of the issue, current studies were still being undertaken to establish the viability of egg harvesting in Queensland.
Another man in the crowd asked Ms Bligh what strategies she had to encourage youths to be involved in the community.
The Premier said youth empowerment was an important issue for the government and that more needed to be learnt about how to put your arm around kids “falling off the tracks”.
When asked later why her state-wide Q2 forums were being undertaken so close to the 2009 election and had not been done two years ago, Ms Bligh said it was a matter of new policies.
Full results from the forum will be posted on the website www.towardQ2.qld.gov.au