BREAKING 11.29am: FLUORIDATION of Mackay’s water supply will be stopped, following a landmark decision by Mackay Regional Council [population 123,724 as of 2015].

In front of a packed gallery, Mackay Regional councillors voted to stop putting fluoride in Mackay’s water supply in a 6-5 vote.

So who voted to remove it?

  • Mayor Greg Williamson
  • Deputy mayor Amanda Camm
  • Justin Englert
  • Fran Mann
  • Karen May
  • Ayril Paton

And who voted to keep it?

  • Martin Bella
  • Laurence Bonaventura
  • Kevin Casey
  • Ross Gee
  • Ross Walker

Following this morning’s decision, Mackay now joins a number of Queensland local governments who’ve voted to stop water fluoridation.

Gladstone Regional Council voted to stop fluoridation as recently as July 19.

UPDATE, 1.30pm: MAYOR Greg Williamson says within “a week or so” fluoride will be completely removed from Mackay Regional Council’s water supply.

The announcement followed this morning’s council vote, in which six councillors voted to remove fluoride and five voted to retain.

Councillors Karen May, Ayril Paton, Justin Englert and Fran Mann spoke passionately in favour of stopping water fluoridation, while Martin Bella, Kevin Casey, Ross Walker and Laurence Bonaventura spoke against.

“Well the fluoride debate was a very good debate. The outcome of public participation. We had two surveys done, one on our council website and of course one by ReachTel,” Cr Williamson said.

“The outcome today after a good debate by councillors was that council has voted to remove fluoride from the water supply.

“That’s not going to happen this afternoon. That might take a couple of weeks to do that as we wind it down.”

Cr Williamson said it will cost “tens of thousands of dollars to actually remove fluoride from the system”.

” … but what happens is we let the fluoride run out of our hoppers, our containers, and we’ll get rid of the bulk stuff,” he said.

“The stuff in the system at the moment, we have to let it run out or else people have got to handle it. That will take a week or so to remove.

“It costs than $100,000 a year to fluoridate the water supply. It costs a lot more to set that up, but we have to go through a procedure now; there is a legislative procedure for turning it off.

“We have to disconnect, so there will be some cost involved in the disconnection, but we haven’t got an estimate of that cost yet, but it’s not going to be insurmountable.”

Cr Williamson said it was a tough decision to make for all councillors.

“… as a local council, public health is not our domain. We shouldn’t be in this situation, but we are, so we made a decision,” he said.

INITIAL: MACKAY Regional Council will decide today whether to continue fluoridating water in the region.

The decision will be made in the council’s ordinary meeting, which is open to the public and due to start at 10am this morning.

A report on the issue is attached to the meeting agenda [see page 264 on], including a “conclusion”, of sorts:

“A community engagement process has been completed to assist council gauge the community’s position and make an informed decision,” it reads.

“The council decision of 1 May 2013 to maintain fluoridation was based on the policy position of the Queensland Government at the time and there has been no change to that position.

“When making the decision whether to fluoridate the water the council must be satisfied that the decision they make is in the best interests of the community, as per s.7 of the Water Fluoridation Act 2008.

“Both sides of the fluoridation debate have had an opportunity to highlight and put the relevant cases forward.

“This report provides operational information regarding the fluoridation of water to help inform.”

It follows a phone survey showing 39.1% of respondents support fluoridation, 46.7% oppose fluoridation and 14.2% were undecided.

A poll on the council’s Connecting Mackay site showed 262 respondents support water fluoridation in Mackay, while 309 did not and two people were unsure.

The council also held a “town hall style meeting” on September 14, attended by about 170 people, which was live streamed and recorded for viewing on the council’s website.

Water fluoridation in Mackay

  • Mackay Regional Council says fluoride was first added to the Mackay water supply in 2009, after the Queensland Government made it mandatory for any town with a population of more than 1000 people.
  • It was added to the Sarina supply in 2010 and placed in the Marian/Mirani supply in late 2014, after the construction of a new water treatment plant in Marian.
  • In 2012, the LNP Government made it optional for councils to fluoridate public water supplies.

UPDATE, 4.49pm: THERE’S been a mixed response from Mackay residents following Mackay Regional Council’s decision to remove fluoride from the region’s water supply.

At this morning’s ordinary council meeting councillors voted for the decision in a 6-5 vote.

Responses to the Daily Mercury’s Facebook post about this morning’s news ranged from scathing to celebratory.

Facebook user Julieann Riches said: “I double that sentiment. If you disagree, get yourself some education on the matter. Pro-choice – if you want fluoride, buy it yourself.

Rob Bryant said: “How much of the water goes down the drain with showers, toilets, washing machines etc compared to how much goes down your throat? Nowhere near enough to warrant fluoride in the water. So yeah, I’m all for this.”

Matthew Cairns also welcomed the council’s decision.

“A victory for freedom of choice. People who want to drink fluoride are still able to purchase fluoride tablets to add to their own drinking water, if they want to,” he wrote.

Joel Mckinnon disagreed with the decision: “All the Google ‘resurchers’ (sic), give yourselves a pat on the back.”

Casey Lewis said: “I dun gat no teef so why ma kids gotta be any different (sic). Ah Mackay, you beautiful train wreck, you do it so well.”

Andrew Whibley simply said: “QLD the smart state? lol, what a joke.”

Responses were similarly varied when the Daily Mercury stopped by the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Market in Mackay city centre this afternoon.

Heidi Thompson was “all for” the council’s decision.

“I just think it should be about choice,” she said.

“I feel like putting fluoride in the water is like a forced medication on people.

“I think if people want to fluoridate themselves, they have the option to go out and buy fluoride tablets and do that.

“But I don’t think it’s something that should be forced on the community without having a say.”

Kellie Lister said she “would prefer not to have fluoride in our local water in Mackay”.

“I’d rather manage it myself from home and know our water doesn’t have that in there,” she said.

“I do support the council’s decision.”

Judy Eldridge believes the council’s decision missed the mark.

“I think it’s bad to stop it. I think it needs to be in the water,” she said.

“Statistics show down south had fluoride in their water for many years and the decay in the teeth is nowhere near what it’s been here.

“My children never had fluoride when they were little, but they were given fluoride tablets and all have really good teeth.

“I can’t see the point (of removing fluoride). I mean, it’s been proven it works.

“I do think it’s a backward move.”

Steven Ralph was “quite happy to not have fluoride in the water, but either way wouldn’t really worry me”.

“I think if the feedback they had was to remove it, well fair enough. I haven’t seen all the data, so I’m not too sure,” he said.

“I’d prefer not to have chemicals in the water, but at the end of the day if it’s in there it’s in there, not too much you can do about it.”

Tanya Brodie believes the council should have retained fluoride in Mackay’s water.

“I just think for the health of your teeth, it’s just better for them,” she said.

“I think the debate has been swayed a bit. People wouldn’t know if it was in there or not unless they were told.”

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson has said fluoride will be completely removed from Mackay region’s water supply in “a week or so”.