Fluoride Action Network

Mackay: It’s a big ‘yes’ to fluoride after council vote

Source: Mackay Daily Mercury | May 2nd, 2013 | By Andrea Davy
Location: Australia

IT’S back on – and this time they promise it will stay on.

Workers at Mackay Regional Council started re-adding fluoride to the city’s water this morning.

The decision to continue to fluoridate water came after about 45 minutes of heated and heartfelt debate during yesterday’s council meeting.

Only three councillors, Alison Jones, Paul Steindl and Chris Bonanno, voted against the motion. The other eight were in favour.

Cr Frank Gilbert was the first to speak in favour, claiming the scientific evidence on the dental health benefits outweighed any counter arguments. He said it was a decision council shouldn’t really have to make, as it was still the State Government’s recommendation to continue to fluoridate water across Queensland.

“We cannot ignore State Government recommendation… fluoridation is safe, effective and equitable,” he said during the meeting.

Regardless of the State Government’s recommendations, last year’s change in legislation meant every council in Queensland had to put the fluoride issue to the vote. So far 13 councils across the state have chosen to vote no.

Cr Alison Jones was the first to speak against the motion. She passionately explained the majority of tooth decay could be pinned on poor diets, and that there were a lot of residents who wouldn’t even drink tap water anyway.

After the meeting she admitted to feeling ‘deflated’.

“One of my points was that people should have the right to chose whether they consume fluoride or not.”

Every councillor, except Cr Greg Martin, spoke on the issue.

Mayor Deirdre Comerford said she had been very lenient with the timeframes and had allowed councillors an extended period of time to discuss the issue.

Cr Steindl and Cr Bonanno both brought up the cost of fluoride. Cr Steindl said the monetary cost of fluoridation didn’t match the proven health benefits.

It costs council about $250,000 a year to fluoridate the region’s water.

“And a lot of this is getting used to wash down boats and hose down driveways,” Cr Steindl said.

Cr Perkins rejected his argument and said this decision “should not be about money”. “Frankly, you have to look at the work that was put into the March 2008 legislation to bring fluoride into Queensland’s water,” he said.

Fluoride was first added to the Mackay water supply in 2009, the Sarina supply in 2010 and is proposed for the Marian/Mirani supply in late 2014 following the construction of a new water treatment plant in Marian.


  • Is being added to the water supply today
  • It costs council $250,000 a year to fluoridate
  • For residents who are supplied with fluoridated water, it cost each one $2.80 a head


COUNCILLORS can breathe a sigh of relief now the “fluorigate” scandal has been put to rest.

Mackay Regional Council chief executive officer Barry Omundson said the investigation into the Workplace Health and Safety issue and the breakdown of communication had been finalised and several senior staff members had been disciplined.

“We have learnt a lot from this process and so have our staff,” Mr Omundson said.

The council had imposed several changes to ensure a communications breakdown on a Workplace Health and Safety issue would never happen again, he said.

“I’m confident in terms (of) what we are doing with the plant that the communication channels are wide open,” he said.

He said all employees had been made more accountable. “When you don’t have accountability or you don’t have clear direction, you get an overlap of roles,” he said.

“Or worse, you get a gap in the roles, and things don’t get done. So we have clarified roles, which was an issue.”

Mr Omundson said there would be several people at the plant this morning making sure things did run smoothly.