DEPUTY Premier and Member for Oxley, Andrew Stoner confirmed this week his support for council to undertake a community poll on contentious issues, such as water fluoridation.
Prior to the NSW election last March, Mr Stoner reported that he did not support forced fluoridation and that, if elected he would ensure that newly elected councillors properly considered the issue, ‘via referendum as appropriate’.
Mr Stoner confirmed his position on Monday.
“I support the right of local government to undertake community polls when and if contentious issues under their jurisdiction arise,” Mr Stoner said. “The cost to ratepayers of such community polls is an important factor, and low-cost options such as conducting a poll in conjunction with a local government election should be considered.”
Residents of the Hastings local government area voted on fluoridation via a compulsory community poll in 1991, in association with a byelection.
In 1991, about 21,000 registered were registered to vote and 20,500 did.
An estimated 12,500, or 71.3 per cent, voted against the addition of a fluoride or silicofluoride compound to the public drinking water.
In 2004, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council complied with instruction from NSW Department of Health to hand the decision to the Department.
In November 2011, the council replied to an inquiry about the procedure for requesting council to conduct a new poll.
Council’s Administrator, Neil Porter, responded that a petition with at least 1000 local signatures supporting a poll on fluoridation should be provided to council.
Mr Porter has since advised that he would not support a poll because of costs and the NSW Government instruction to fluoridate.