BALLINA Shire Council will not join neighbouring Lismore Council in a ban on fluoride in water after the a similar motion to do so was overwhelmingly rejected 8 to 2 on Thursday.
Council also voted that the State government step in to expedite the implementation of fluoride in Ballina’s water supply.
Mayor David Wright said that even though he did not personally support the original decision to add fluoride to the water supply, the council had already spent $200,000 of rate payer’s money successfully fighting their right to do so against local anti-fluoride protester Al Oshlak.
“We can’t walk away from that decision (to fluoridate) unless there is new overwhelming evidence which there is not,” Cr Wright said, adding he agreed with the Daily Telegraph’s call for the State Government to override laws allowing councils to decide to fluoridate their water supply.
“I don’t believe it should be a local council decision, council shouldn’t make a decision on a health matter, it should be a state government decision and should be mandated like seatbelts,” Cr Wright said.
The motion to ban the decay-fighting chemical the majority of the state uses in its water supply was put forward by Councillor Keith Williams, supported by greens Cr Jeff Johnson, who cited reports that linked fluoride to a lower IQ in children.
“My concern is we end up with children with bright smiles and dull eyes,” Cr Williams said.
Cr Robyn Hordern accused the councillors of spreading feat and made the point that children in the shire, who have never had fluoridation, were “no brighter”.
“We don’t have a larger group of children succeeding here on the north coast. I believe we should join the other 96 per cent of the state and fluoridate the waste,” Cr Hordern said.
Deputy Mayor Susan Meehan told council they have been subject to a “powerful and persistent lobby group” against fluoridation.
NSW Chief Medical Office Dr Kerry Chant flew to Ballina on Tuesday to persuade council of the merits of fluoridation and refute any suggestion of harm.
Spokeswoman for the Ballina Fluoridation Free Network argued to council that adding fluoride was ‘unethical” and “contravened human rights”. The child-care-worker by trade angrily took aim at the Daily Telegraph and its Stop the Rot campaign, arguing it was forced medication, refusing to do an interview after the decision.
Last week near-by Lismore Council voted 6-4 against introducing fluoride into its water supply, despite evidence it is highly effective in reducing tooth decay and dental disease, however a rescission motion was lodged by three councillors on Tuesday evening which may yet overturn the last week’s decision. Yesterday the Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced NSW Health would prepare a discussion paper on the subject.
Rous water, the public utility which services northern NSW councils Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay and the Richmond Valley has also been the subject of legal action from anti-fluoride activism stalling the addition of fluoride.
Byron Bay voted in 2007 not to add fluoride to its water supply.