A legal challenge has delayed any chance Queenstown’s council could be forced by central government to fluoridate drinking water.
In November 2021, legislation was passed that moved the decision to add fluoride to drinking water supplies from councils into the hands of government’s director-general of health.
Last July, former director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield, in his last week in the role, sent a letter to 14 councils around the country directing them to start fluoridation.
Councils who refuse face a fine of $200,000, plus $10,000 a day for every day they don’t comply.
Queenstown’s council wasn’t on that list, but is on a broader list of 27 councils sent a further letter by the director-general of health in November that said the government was ‘‘actively considering’’ issuing a directive to fluoridate their water supplies.
That letter asked it if it had any fluoridation moves, or plans under way, and estimates of costs and timelines.
Council supplied its response, sent in February this year, to Mountain Scene.
It replied it had nothing under way, nor any plans for fluoridation.
The government’s moves have alarmed groups, including some resort residents, who say there’s mounting evidence fluoridated drinking water isn’t safe or effective, as claimed on Ministry of Health’s website, and is costly to install.
In June, the concerns led NewHealth New Zealand to file court proceedings against the directives to the 14 councils.
The move means the councils can now apply for an interim injunction to hold off complying with the directive to fluoridate, until the case has been heard.
Queenstown council infrastructure ops manager Simon Mason reiterates council ‘‘currently has no plans to fluoridate the district’s water supply’’.
‘‘It’s important to emphasise that council already has a significant Three Waters investment programme within the 2021-31 10-year plan to ensure the ongoing provision of safe drinking water to our communities, but this does not currently include funding for the implementation of fluoridation dosing.’’
Fluoride will be the topic of a public meeting at 7pm today at Arrowtown Golf Club, hosted by Fluoride Free’s Mary Byrne and former Otago University Professor of Dental Materials Dr Neil Waddle.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/queenstown/legal-action-stalls-queenstown-fluoride-move