THE State Government says the introduction of fluoridated water could cost it votes at the next state election.
But Deputy Premier Paul Lucas has declared it is a price he is willing to pay to improve children’s dental health.
Dosage units began adding fluoride to drinking water at many South East Queensland treatment plants last month, although Redland City supplies will not be fluoridated until late 2009.
A State Government flyer recently distributed to some local households incorrectly claimed the Redlands was part of the December 2008 roll-out.
The introduction of fluoride in water supplies has won strong support from the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association which say the move will bring Queensland into line with other states and will help reduce tooth decay among the younger population.
However, some protest groups, such as Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food, have questioned the promoted benefits of fluoride, raised fears about health risks and warned the government should not engage in “mass medication”.
Mr Lucas told The Redland Times he was determined to prevent tooth decay, even if it cost the government votes.
“This has made us unpopular with some people . . . and we make no apologies for that,” the infrastructure and planning minister said during an interview at Wellington Point.
“I’m happy to lose some votes in some quarters if kids lose less teeth.”
The State Government points to a 1996 study that showed children in Townsville, where the water was already fluoridated, had 40 per cent less tooth decay than those in Brisbane.
But anti-fluoridation advocates continue to raise concerns over the practice.
Bill Snoddy, of Cleveland, told Redland City councillors in a speech last month they should stand up to the State Government and prevent the “mass fluoridation” of local water supplies, saying the public needed to learn the other side of the story about fluoride.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg has sought to capitalise on anti-fluoridation sentiment in the lead-up to this year’s election by promising greater consultation on fluoride in areas where the substance had not yet been added to water supplies.
The Infrastructure Department and Seqwater have repeatedly confirmed Redland City water sources are not due to be fluoridated until the end of December 2009.
It is understood tenders for the installation of dosage units at local treatment plants have not been called for yet.
“We can’t do everything immediately,” Mr Lucas said.