Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, at her government’s first community cabinet this year, has moved to calm Gold Coast voters angered over the introduction of fluoridated water.
The government’s push to introduce fluoride into the state’s water system was the biggest topic of contention at the 109th community cabinet meeting held at the William Duncan State School in Nerang.
Ms Bligh had used her opening address to speak about advancements in the tourist region, also spruiking the Gold Coast’s new Skilled Park stadium, which was opened amid much fanfare this morning.
But the conversation soon turned to fluoride and took up the majority of the open forum’s time.
Local resident Theo Huygens Tholen questioned Ms Bligh on his right to choose to have fluoride in his taps.
“Why are you going to take my choice away?” he asked Ms Bligh and her ministers.
“The facts on this issue are very stark,” she replied.
“Queensland spends more on dental health than any other state in Australia and our children have the worst teeth than any other state in the country.
“(We believe) this is an effective, preventative measure to dental decay.”
Her response provoked a chorus of protests, forcing Ms Bligh to appeal for calm.
She said she had already spoken to a number of anti-fluoride groups and was assessing their arguments in a bid to consider all “objective concerns”.
“I know some of you have very strong views, but sometimes the government just has to make what it thinks is the right decision and that’s what we’ve done in the case of fluoride,” she said.
The community cabinet will meet in the Gold Coast again tomorrow.