CALLS for a referendum on the controversial fluoride issue in Warrnambool won’t succeed because the city council has no power to hold one and the state health department says the deal is already done.
A request to hold a public meeting and explore the council’s powers to hold a referendum came from Warrnambool Fluoride Action Group member Peter Sycopoulis who is alarmed by the lack of community consultation on the decision.
Mr Sycopoulis asked councillors a fortnight ago, before the decision, at a council meeting when and how the community would be consulted on fluoride.
The Department of Human Services which announced Allansford, Warrnambool and Koroit would have fluoridated water supplies told The Standard “the decision is made”.
Warrnambool City chief Lindsay Merritt said the council had no authority to conduct a referendum and could only hold a survey.
He said a move to do that was unlikely because it was a State Government decision.
Department of Human Services spokesman Bram Alexander said information had already been distributed informing the community.
“The decision is made. I wouldn’t think there would be a hold on it,” Mr Alexander said.
Few calls to the department’s 1800 hotline or letters were against the proposal for Warrnambool, he said.
Mr Sycopoulis said the department’s claims that the community had and would be consulted were a joke.
“”We’re on the back foot and it’s a bigger fight and it will be a fight to the death,” he said.
Action group member Peter Hulin is equally alarmed by the lack of balanced information.
Several councillors told The Standard the health plan was unlikely to be overturned and public meetings didn’t need to be called by councillors.