ROUS Water may have breached common law on Wednesday when it approved the fluoridation of the water supply on the Northern Rivers, a law lecturer at Southern Cross University said yesterday.
Rous’ six councillors voted 5 to 4 in favour of fluoridation after chairman Cr Col Sullivan used his casting vote to carry the motion.
At issue was legal advice telling councillors they could be held personally financially liable if they decided to defer the decision.
This directly led Cr David Yarnall to change his vote because he was ‘not prepared to put my personal well-being at risk and incur penalties from a government (health) department’.
SCU law lecturer Dr Tom Round yesterday said the council did not do anything wrong in commissioning the advice, but it should have been regarded as merely legal opinion, not a definitive ruling.
He said residents could sue the Rous board and possibly individual counsellors for not fulfilling their duties.
“Under common law councillors have an obligation to apply good reason for their decisions and not have acted under dictation,” Dr Round said.
As the backlash to the decision builds, the Ballina Fluoridation Free Network has written to the Minister for Local Government and the Independent Commission Against Corruption calling for the vote to be declared void, accusing Rous Water of breaching the Local Government Act by ‘threatening, intimidating and bullying councillors’.
Lismore resident and legal advocate is also preparing to file legal action, claiming the water authority breached its obligations under the Environment Act.
Rous Water did not return calls from The Northern Star yesterday.