A PARLIAMENTARY committee seems to have delivered the final nail in the coffin to Bundaberg Regional Council’s hopes of avoiding forced fluoridation of its drinking water.
Council water and wastewater spokesman Alan Bush was hopeful of a win after he and CEO Peter Byrne flew to Brisbane over a week ago to put their case the finance advisory committee.
But on Friday Cr Bush was told the committee had recommended to the State Government that the forced fluoridation of Bundaberg water goes ahead.
“It looks like we’re back to square one,” he said.
Cr Bush said the committee had recommended the council be given until June 2014 to install the fluoridation infrastructure, rather than adhere to the initial deadline of December this year.
But then the recommendation was that the state’s subsidy for the change be cancelled if it were not done by the deadline.
The council estimates it will cost about $7.8 million to fluoridate the water, with a subsidy of about $6.5 million.
That would leave the council to find the remaining $1.3 million, as well as the $800,000 a year operating costs.
Cr Bush said the council had been told to go to Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s department if it needed more funding.
“I think if the State Government wants fluoridation put in they should pay for it,” he said.
Cr Bush said he had not had the time to discuss the matter with his fellow councillors, but he planned to do so at a meeting this week.
And he said he did not think having a referendum of Bundaberg citizens on the issue would do much good.
“If we have a referendum they’ll just ignore it because it’s been legislated already,” he said.
“It would be useless, and it would cost a lot.”