With voting locked at four-all at last week’s council meeting (with one councillor, Dr. Tilak Dissanayake, absent) Mayor Peter Shinton used his casting vote to approve the introduction of fluoride to the shire’s water supplies.
It was a brave move by the mayor, and although on paper his vote swung it, it could be argued that should Dr. Dissanayake have been at the meeting the result would have been identical, as he is a vocal supporter of fluoride. So the result did really represent the true majority view of the council.
The decision falls into line with a recent poll around the shire that found 64 per cent of residents were in favour of the fluoride while only 18 per cent were against it and a further 18 per cent undecided.
Cr. Victor Schmidt said he voted against the introduction of the chemical as he believes there should be a freedom of choice in these matters.
In the lead-up to the vote, opponents of fluoride made numerous submissions to council, far outnumbering those who support its introduction.
But the survey was claimed to be conclusive and swayed a number of councillors, who had previously been sitting on the fence.
Binnaway, for example, which has been the subject of detailed studies as part of a dental health program, showed levels of support for fluoride at close to 90 percent.
Breakdown of the vote
Councillors who voted in support of fluoridation were Peter Shinton, Denis Todd, Ron Sullivan and Kerry Campbell.
Those who voted against were Victor Schmidt, Mark Powell, Murray Coe and Ray Lewis.
As previously mentioned, Dr. Dissanayake, would have certainly voted in support had he been at the meeting.
Other health professionals have also been vocal in their promotion of fluoride, but it is interesting that Cr. Mark Powell, a veterinarian, who is well versed on chemicals and drugs, voted against it.
Second time lucky
This is the second time the council has faced a vote on introducing fluoridation. It was earlier knocked back by a previous council after thunderous opposition.
Some of the same opponents mustered their energies and fought it against this time, but their lobbying failed to win over the necessary majority of councillors.
It is expected that they will not take this decision laying down and will continue their passionate fight against it.
One councillor predicted to the Coona Times that he wouldn’t be surprised if a rescission motion is put before council at the next meeting.
Meanwhile, Coona’s local dentist, Dr. Hugh Raadgever, was over the moon that the fluoridation has been passed. He has been campaigning for years for its introduction.
“This is excellent news, especially for young families in our area who will really benefit from this decision,” he said.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our area and I hope there won’t be any silly rescissions or anything like that.”