A PUBLIC rally in Warrnambool on Wednesday will urge Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene in a last-ditch attempt to stop the city’s water being fluoridated.
Organisers are hoping to attract at least 2000 people to the rally at the Civic Green from 6pm – just two hours after tenders close for the fluoridation plant.
Former City of Warrnambool chief executive officer Vern Robson will lead the rally.
Mr Robson said residents were angry at the lack of consultation and the secrecy surrounding the fluoridation of water supplies in Warrnambool, Koroit and Allansford.
“The future of democracy is at stake if we don’t stand up and be counted in our communities,” Mr Robson said.
He claimed there was a groundswell of opposition to fluoridation growing throughout Victoria.
“It’s almost building to a stage where, if the present State Government doesn’t act on this issue, it will be a major issue at the next state election,” Mr Robson said.
Warrnambool’s Fluoride Action Group hopes the event will be the precursor to a major rally on the steps of State Parliament early next year where thousands of country residents are expected to protest about the compulsory fluoridation of their water supplies.
Mr Robson said Wannon Water had advertised for the design and construction of its fluoridation plant, with tenders closing at 4pm on Wednesday.
“We want to alert the community that it’s getting desperate,” he said.
“We want a moratorium with the Prime Minister and, more importantly, we want the local people to be given a vote through a proper plebiscite.
“If the people then vote for fluoride, well so be it.”
The rally is expected to pass a resolution calling on Mr Rudd to stop the installation of any new fluoride dosing plants in Australia.
The group will ask for a national panel of scientific and medical experts to conduct an independent report on international trends in the use of fluoride in public water supplies.
Mr Robson said another resolution to be put to the rally would call on the South West Trades and Labour Council to get involved in the debate.
Group convener Peter Hulin said people were upset at the lack of consultation by the Department of Human Services (DHS), despite promises in May that any decision about the fluoridation of the city’s water would hinge on community support.
“We got a propaganda book from DHS that was so full of holes it was ludicrous,” Mr Hulin told The Standard yesterday.
“It’s a farce and that’s what got people’s backs up.”
The group was also frustrated that the state’s chief health officer Dr John Carnie and other fluoride supporters have continually refused to present their side of the debate at public gatherings.
“They don’t want people to be informed because ignorance breeds complacency,” Mr Hulin said. He said new international evidence about the use of fluoride and recent concerns by 21 Warrnambool doctors showed an “urgent national need” for an immediate moratorium on new dosing plants.
Protesters had decided to take their case directly to Mr Rudd because of his sympathetic record and personal concern for people suffering from asbestos-related disease.
Mr Hulin said public rallies that attracted large crowds had been successful in Warrnambool in the past.
“More than 13 years ago our community conducted a similar major rally that led to successfully retaining the Warrnambool to Melbourne passenger train service,” he said.
Mr Robson agreed: “It’s a last-ditch stand. We just can’t afford not to have a big representation of residents.”