WARRNAMBOOL’S water supply will be fluoridated and the decision will not be made via a public vote.

Victoria’s chief health officer, John Carnie, yesterday said he was in Warrnambool to outline the facts and dispel the myths about water fluoridation.

Dr Carnie defended the State Government’s policy.

Although in the city on the day of an open forum with US anti-fluoridation lobbyist Paul Connett, the public health veteran ruled out making an appearance.

“Us going to that meeting and engaging in some kind of public slanging match doesn’t help the cause of science,” he told The Standard.

“If there are people who are genuinely undecided, these sorts of meetings are not the place where they are going to learn about the science of this.

“People… are not going there to have their minds changed. They are going there to have their views reinforced by other like-minded people.”

Local anti-fluoride campaigners have called for a referendum to decide if fluoride should be added to Warrnambool, Koroit and Allansford’s water.

Their call was backed by a Standard Talking Point last week, to which about 95 per cent of respondents rejected water fluoridation.

Dr Carnie said the process was unnecessary and unreliable, given the decision had already been made.

“We don’t believe that these sorts of referendums are of any use,” he said.

“The people who are going to benefit most from fluoride – which are the babies and young children – also don’t vote in these referendums.”

Dr Carnie said the State’s Department of Human Services’ pro-fluoride stance was gained from about 500 scientific articles from around the world.

“It’s not just us. Every major health and dental organisation in the world advocates the use of optimal level of fluoride for reducing dental caries.

“What conceivable reason would we have, as public health practitioners, to advocate something that we know to be harmful?

“It would just go completely against all our public health principles.”

At the optimum level of one part per million, fluoride’s benefits are only offset by minor incidents of mottling of the teeth, called dental fluorosis.

“At the levels we are talking about… dental fluorosis is minimal, and it is mostly unrecognisable to the untrained eye,” Dr Carnie said.