THE controversial fluoride debate will come to a head at today’s Hastings Council meeting.
Since a Mid-North Coast Area Health Service teleconference last month, fluoridation of the water supply has been a hot topic, with both sides of the debate presented to the council.
Two main motions will come before today’s meeting.
Mayor Rob Drew will propose the council approach the NSW
Government to establish an expert panel to advise on fluoridation, while Cr Lisa Intemann has lodged a notice of motion proposing the council not add fluoride to the water supply without first seeking community views through a referendum.
The mayor believes fluoridation is a public health issue, which should be referred to the state government.
“I’m not an expert in this field and nor is any other councillor sitting around the table,” he said.
“We’ve got to take notice of what the local experts say.
“I can read all the information I like but at the end of the day, I only know the theory as I’m not dealing with this on a day-to-day basis.”
Under Cr Drew’s proposal, if the panel found a strong case for fluoridation, the council would go ahead with fluoridation and seek a 50 per cent subsidy for recurrent costs
But Cr Intemann is an advocate of holding a referendum to gauge community views.
“I’m hoping we can get to a referendum, then we have at least a chance to get the debate out into the open,” she said.
A 1991 poll question showed the majority of the community was then against fluoridation.
As this decision is already on the table, she said, the council should not fluoridate the water supply without going to a referendum.
“All the evidence points to there being no evidence in favour of fluoridation,” Cr Intemann said.
Fluoridation was introduced into Australia in 1953, with fluoridation at the discretion of the water supply authority.
Four Mid-North Coast local government areas are without fluoridation – Hastings, Kempsey, Bellingen and Coffs Harbour.
The Mid-North Coast Area Health Service has offered to pay the $2 million to fluoridate the water supplies of the four regions but the Hastings Safe Water Association believes the money would be better spent employing school dental therapists.