ANOTHER public forum on fluoridation will be held in Warrnambool after the city council was last night reminded that community passion for the issue is still alive.
Against the backdrop of about 50 rowdy protesters in the public gallery, councillors debated a report that said fluoridation was solely a State Government responsibility.
The report, prepared by city chief executive Bruce Anson, recommended that no further action be taken on the controversial issue.
One councillor, Andrew Fawcett, was heckled and jeered at as he attempted to explain his view that the majority of residents supported fluoride, introduced into the city’s water supply last August.
His views were described as “tragic” by fellow councillor Peter Hulin, who was applauded by the gallery when he said 95 per cent of residents who took part in fluoridation opinion polls opposed it.
Cr Fawcett replied he had yet to see a “proper poll undertaken on any scientific basis”.
“Anyone can take a poll and come up with such magical results,” he said.
Cr Hulin said the fluoridation legislation report was “full of holes”.
“Ignorance is dangerous. If we are not open to hear the latest studies we are being derelict in our duty to serve the people of Warrnambool,” he said.
The recommendation from Mr Anson was thrown out on a 4-3 vote and an alternative resolution to convene a forum presenting recent scientific evidence from both sides of the argument was supported unanimously.
Cr Jennifer Lowe suggested the forum to allow two local GPs to share research highlighting fluoridation health risks.
Doctors Natalie Ryan and Brendan Kay had earlier offered to speak to councillors on the topic.
Cr Lowe’s suggestion was amended to include inviting representatives from the Department of Human Services and the dental profession to present a balance.
“A large proportion of the community is interested in this issue,” she said.
The forum will be organised by the city council at a date and venue to be fixed.
In 2007, two public meetings organised by fluoridation protesters drew about 700 people.
Last night anti-fluoridation lobby group convenor Peter Sycopoulis said the decision was a victory for democracy. “The council realises it can’t quash our rights to exercise out democracy,” he said.