Nelson City Council will continue work to fluoridate its water despite a High Court ruling that the mandate to do so was unlawful.
Fourteen councils, including Nelson, were directed to fluoridate their water supplies by then Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield in July 2022.
At the time, he said that fluoridating Nelson’s water would be “an important step in improving the oral health” of the city.
Nelson needs to comply by May 2024. Not complying with the directive would constitute an offence.
However, a preliminary ruling from the High Court has found that the direction from Bloomfield was made unlawfully because specific consideration was not given to the Bill of Rights Act.
Specifically, he needed to consider whether the directions were a reasonable limit on the right to refuse medical treatment and to explain why if he was satisfied they were reasonable.
Despite the ruling, Nelson City Council has confirmed that it will continue work to fluoridate its water as its directive from Manat? Hauora – the Ministry of Health has not changed.
The course of action is in line with a Ministry release from Friday that said the High Court’s judgement “has not quashed the directions to fluoridate drinking water”.
Dharan Longley, co-convenor of the anti-fluoride Nelson Clean Water Coalition, said the decision by the council to continue working to fluoridate its water is “shocking”.
“This?really invites all Nelson ratepayers and residents to seriously ask [the council] how democratic and respectful they are being of our right to choose what we put into our own bodies if they are willing to override this.”
The city should have been consulted on fluoridation, he said.
“We’re being mandated without good reason.”
The Ministry said it is considering the implications of the ruling, but will continue supporting the 14 councils to implement their directions, including by providing funding for the capital works.
In Nelson’s case, the Ministry is funding the $909,069 needed for capital expenditure to enable the city’s fluoridation.
In its release, the Ministry emphasised that the ruling concerned the process required to be used in deciding to issue a direction.
“The judgment is not about the public health merits of fluoridation or whether fluoridation can be justified under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
“Manat? Hauora continues to support community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and affordable way of preventing tooth decay.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/11/21/nelson-fluoridation-continues-despite-high-court-ruling/