The Queensland AMA has reignited its battle for fluoridated water in the wake of local government elections.

Queensland doctors have seized on recent local government elections in the state to urge all new mayors to make fluoridated drinking water available to their local communities.

Dr Dilip Dhupelia

Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland President Dr Dilip Dhupelia says 19 local government areas don’t provide fluoridation, despite overwhelming evidence it is a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay.

Almost one three Queenslanders currently don’t have access to fluoridated water, he says.

“There is no coincidence that the 19 councils in Queensland that do not have fluoridated water have corresponding high rates of dental decay,” Dr Dhupelia said.

“It’s disappointing that these councils have failed to provide this public health measure to their ratepayers, despite its proven benefits.”

He says mayors elected to councils without fluoridated water must ensure it is delivered to their local communities.

“AMA Queensland is calling on the Mayors of these 19 Councils to commit to the reintroduction of fluoride so their communities can reap the health benefits of drinking fluoridated water throughout their life,” Dr Dhupelia said.

Expert bodies including the NHMRC and the TGA and recognise water fluoridation as an important public health intervention and a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay across the population.

Fluoridation turf wars

Water fluoridation in Queensland was mandated by the state government in 2008 but the legislation was amended in 2012 so the state no longer paid councils to implement fluoridation. Decision-making responsibility was handed back to local government, with the result that many councils opted out citing an unsustainable financial burden.

Greg Hallam

The AMA says this has resulted in an increase in tooth decay, extractions and hospitalisations. It says a study in the Logan-Beaudesert region found a 19 per cent reduction in decayed, missing or filled teeth in children aged between four and nine after fluoride was added to the water supply

Queensland’s peak body for local government LGQA believes it should be up to each council to make a decision about whether or not to add fluoride to water supplies, in consultation with their local communities.

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam says it’s premature for AMAQ to be making demands of new mayors when the outcome of the election is still being finalised.

“The priority for Queensland’s councils right now is protecting the communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This should be everyone’s priority,” Cr Hallam told Government News.

Local government also argues that fluoridation is a public health issue and therefore a matter for the state.

“The LGAQ’s position is that the state government should fully fund councils for both the capital and recurrent costs of fluoridation as oral health is a state responsibility,” Cr Hallam said.

The ECQ has formally declared more than 500 of the 578 Mayor and Councillor positions to be decided in the March local government elections, with at least 26 councils set to welcome new mayors.

LGAs that don’t provide fluoridated water (source: AMA Qld)

Bundaberg Regional Council
Burdekin Shire Council
Cairns Regional Council
Cassowary Coast Regional Council
Charters Towers Regional Council
Cloncurry Shire Council
Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council
Fraser Coast Regional Council
Gladstone Regional Council
Livingstone Shire Council
Mackay Regional Council
Mount Isa City Council
North Burnett Regional Council
Paroo Shire Council
Rockhampton Regional Council
South Burnett Regional Council
Southern Downs Regional Council
Tablelands Regional Council
Whitsunday Regional Council

*Original article online at