PORT Macquarie Hastings Council has resolved not to hold a community poll on fluoridation in conjunction with Local Government Elections in September.
Council general manager Tony Hayward said in his report that as there has not been an elected council for more than four years, it may be considered ‘inappropriate to table what might be deemed a significant issue for the newly elected Council to manage’.
“It is more appropriate for the newly elected incoming Council to consider the issue and determine whether a community poll is required,” Mr Hayward said.
Mr Hayward reported that it would cost $30,000 plus advertising to hold a poll in conjunction with the councillor elections, and ‘more’ to hold a poll after the elections.
Council Administrator Neil Porter advised last December that council would consider a September poll on fluoridation if more than 1000 signatures were submitted to council before June 7, however later advised that he would not support the conduct of a poll in conjunction with the September elections. By the time of last Wednesday’s meeting, a petition with 4000 signatures of local voters calling for a fluoridation poll had been delivered to council. Four local residents spoke against deferral of the poll, and two health professionals spoke in support – Colgate Associate Professor Faculty of Dentistry University of Sydney Wendell Evans, and Mid North Coast Local Health District chief executive officer Stewart Dowrick. Ass. Professor Evans warned that to discontinue water fluoridation would be to deny an extremely beneficial impact to the community. Water fluoridation began in the Hastings three months ago, after the council referred the decision to the state government in 2004. Speaking in support of the poll being held with the councillor election, Dr Caree Alexander said the costs of a poll outside the election cycle would be at least $300,000. Mr Porter resolved that consideration of a poll on fluoridation be deferred to the new council.