CAMPAIGNER against fluoridation Lisa Intemann expressed relief and delight after Hastings Council on Monday night agreed to lodge a motion to the 2004 National Assembly of Local Government in Canberra next month.
Cr Inteman’s notice of motion was that the Australian Local Government Association support a moratorium on the expansion of water fluoridation into any new areas pending a proper and independent review of the practice.
This follows an earlier council decision to accept the advice of the NSW Department of Health to add fluoride to the Hastings water supply.
The item was raised when four speakers addressed the public forum section of the meeting and was later strongly and lengthily debated by councillors and other speakers.
Cr Intemann said after the meeting that she would be representing the council to speak to her motion in Canberra.
“I will be getting the right information to the right people prior to the assembly so they will be prepared with the information.”
She acknowledged the “door is open” on the fluoride issue in the Hastings.
“I will try to start to unravel this very frustrating, complicated and confusing situation for a lot of people,” she said.
Councillors voting in favour of the notice of motion were Rob Drew, Bob Sharpham, Cameron Price, Jamie Harrison and the mover Lisa Intemann.
Mayor Drew, speaking towards the end of the debate, said the council had acted democratically and had taken on board the advice given to it.
“We had the best medical specialists talk to us.”
He said the medical fraternity in Port Macquarie was among the long list of supporters of fluoridation.
He indicated he would not support the motion, but after a passionate address by Cr Intemann in closing the debate Cr Drew agreed to support her.
At the outset of the meeting Paul Blain, Robbie Robb, Ms Ursula Bruce and Ms Connie Barwick addressed the public forum section and spoke against adding fluoride to the Hastings water supply.
When the notice of motion was before the meeting Ron Barr urged that the public have a say through a referendum, after having the information from both sides presented to them.
He emphasised that people had not had the opportunity to exercise that right.
The Mid-North Coast Area Health Service’s project manager for oral health, John Irving, told the council of the “shocking” levels of dental decay on the Mid-North Coast, but acknowledged there were various contributing factors.
He said that under Australian safe water guidelines fluoride in public water supplies was an acceptable way to reduce dental problems, and as recently as last week a top American medical person had supported fluoride.
Geoff Gilmore said he had researched the literature on the issue and was in favour of the public being given all the information for a community decision.
Colin Crighton said he was “passionately in favour of fluoride” and that there was no evidence fluoride being linked to cancer.
Cr Intemann said she disagreed with Mr Crighton, believing fluoride was not perfectly safe and should not be imposed on people.
Cr Daphne Johnston said she had voted against fluoride in 1991 but now believed children should not be deprived of it.
Cr Rob Nardella said it was a public health issue and was no longer in the court of Hastings Council ; it was a matter for the state government.
Cr Harrison said there was no harm in asking the National Assembly of Local Government to consider the matter