WARRNAMBOOL’S long-running anti-fluoride campaign was ordered to shut down its operations in the CBD yesterday.
The city council fined campaigners $226 for illegally setting up near a pedestrian crossing in Liebig Street.
But the anti-fluoride protesters, who were running a citizens’-initiated referendum, claimed their booth was legal and vowed to return today.
Organiser Stephen Juhasz said they were protected under Victorian Imperial Acts Application Act 1980.
“The act states we have the right to petition the King and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal,” Mr Juhasz.
“What we are doing is providing a community service. We are not here for profit or to push people into it (voting).
“We have chosen a location which is slightly off the footpath and does not disrupt pedestrians or shopkeepers.”
A city council spokeswoman said there was nothing illegal about the petitioning but the protesters needed a permit to erect a structure on the footpath.
“They can petition away, there is nothing wrong with that,” the spokeswoman said.
“But they need to abide by council bylaws. If they put up a structure they require a permit.”
The Liebig Street booth came just days before fluoride is to be added to Warrnambool’s water supply.
The campaigners hope to gain 10 per cent of the eligible vote to seek an injunction order on the decision.
They were served an infringement notice about 1.15pm yesterday and given an hour to remove their structure.
But they stayed, resulting in the council fine.
Last weekend the group set up a polling booth on the Civic Green.
The council spokeswoman said the protesters sought a permit for that booth.
“That tent (on the Civic Green) was fine. They obviously know the processes they have to follow.
“If they remain in Liebig Street then we will proceed with further action.”
Wannon Water has installed equipment at its Albert Park treatment plant to start fluoridation from Monday.