ONE of the biggest public meetings in Warrnambool’s history resolved to fight the introduction of fluoride to the city’s water supply.
Confirming that the issue has become one of the city’s most contentious, last night’s meeting attracted an estimated 700 to 1000 people to the Emmanuel College hall, with many others apparently turning away when the car park filled.
Despite the crowd 28 chairs set aside at the front of the room bearing the names of politicians and Warrnambool City councillors remained empty.
The organisers said some of the politicians were in Melbourne for Parliament, while the councillors were at another meeting.
Several key speakers addressed the crowd before a long question-and-answer session, after which the meeting unanimously voted on all eight resolutions put forward.
The first resolution was to approach the Federal Government to intervene and conduct a referendum to decide whether the city’s water should be fluoridated.
A spokeswoman for Wannon MP David Hawker said it was not the Federal Government’s place to intervene because fluoridation was a State Government issue.
If the Federal Government does not help the Warrnambool Fluoride Action Group plans to seek funding to hold an independent referendum.
Vern Robson, who chaired last night’s meeting, said the overwhelming response meant the State and Federal Governments now had no choice but to take notice of the anti-fluoride argument.
“I have no doubt it will eventually be obsolete.” Dr Natalie Ryan
“It’s the biggest public meeting we’ve probably had since the Warrnambool to Melbourne rail issue came up,” Mr Robson said.
There were gasps from the crowd when former Australian Dental Association president Dr Andrew Harms said that fluoride contained arsenic, with about 0.4 to 1.6 parts per billion of arsenic in fluoridated water.
Speaker David McRae said there was evidence fluoride did little for tooth decay.
Mr McRae said Shepparton had fluoride, but the level of tooth decay was worse than in Warrnambool.
Warrnambool doctor Natalie Ryan said fluoride could cause several health problems including malignant tumours, iodine deficiencies, early puberty, brittle bones and goiter.
Dr Ryan received loud applause when she said that she would not swallow fluoridated water.
“I have no doubt it will eventually be obsolete,” she told the meeting.
“We should lead the way.
“We don’t want to be the victims of outdated political policies.”