Queensland’s Parliament passed laws allowing water fluoridation last night, despite an Opposition push for a referendum on the issue.

The Opposition supported the laws, but health spokesman and dentist John Paul Langbroek moved an amendment, which was defeated, seeking a popular vote.

Independent MP Liz Cunningham voted against the fluoride laws, and told the house she supported the plebiscite push because of concern in her electorate.

“It is important that they have a voice,” she said.

Health Minister Stephen Robertson says surveys have already shown most people in the state support the measure.

“Poll after poll has shown that the majority of Queenslanders support fluoridation,” he said.

Mr Robertson says 90 per cent of the state will have fluoride in its drinking water supplies by 2012, with the program starting in the south-east later this year.

“Protecting teeth against decay through water fluoridation will result in significant long term benefits by reducing the cost to Queensland families and to the Government of treating dental disease,” he added.

“Together with oral hygiene and good nutrition fluoridation has been proven to reduce tooth decay by up to 40 per cent.”