Fluoride Action Network

Eurobodalla Shire: Why even ask?

Source: Bay Post | May 23rd, 2008 | BY DIANA COZADINOS
Location: Australia

THE decision not to fluoridate the Eurobodalla’s water supply has sparked a greater debate as to the relevance of council’s public consultation process.

Almost a quarter of the shire’s population responded to an extensive council survey, and two-thirds of respondents supported fluoridation.

This week’s 5-4 vote by councillors against fluoridation launched a swathe of angry letters to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, accusing the five councillors of ignoring the community they were elected to represent.

Dr Graham Thomas described the “disastrous vote” as “a litany of error, incompetence, and just plain ignorance”.

“To say that there is no proven evidence that fluoridation reduces dental decay and that dentists are just wanting to earn thousands of dollars by fixing up the evil side effects of fluoride is also nonsensical.”

He said fluoride tablets, the alternative suggested by Councillor Allan Brown, were not recommended by dentists except for in remote rural areas under strict professional supervision, which was not available in the shire.

He encouraged all councillors to read the scientific and clinical information that underpinned safe and effective use of fluoride in drinking water and change their vote to the affirmative at next week’s council meeting.

Dr Grant Miles said he was appalled by the decision that went against both demonstrated community support and the willingness of the State Government to provide resources.

“The decision was foolish, arrogant and wicked in its impact on the dental health of our young and defenceless,” he wrote.

A Surf Beach parent said it was another example of council not listening to ratepayers.

“Shame on them for not considering the benefits to our children. My two eldest children raised in Sydney have healthy teeth, not so lucky is my third that was raised here.”

Phil Teece, of Sunshine Bay, described the decision as bizarre, and a travesty for public health and democratic process.

“In public policy, it is a given that opponents of change are invariably more vociferous than supporters.

“This suggests the paltry 27 per cent identified in council’s extensive public consultation process almost certainly overstates total community opposition, while the registered 67.5 percent support probably fails fully to reflect the extent of public acceptance of fluoride.

Phil Armstrong, of Jeremadra, asked if the five councillors were waiting for 100 per cent approval.

“I am sure that in September nearly seven out of every 10 electors in the Eurobodalla Shire will consider their votes for councillors and mayor very carefully because that is one “survey” where the community does have the final say.”

However anti-fluoride campaigners welcomed council’s decision as a victory for those committed to giving residents the right to make their own individual choice.

“That is democracy in action,” Eurobodalla Fluoride Issues Incorporated public officer Marilyn Vine said.