Fluoride challenge rejected

Luis Feliu

A NSW Court of Appeal ruling yesterday giving the go-ahead for drinking water across the northern rivers to be fluoridated may not spell the end of the controversial  issue, with the Greens set to campaign against it and a High Court challenge being considered.

Opponents say the legislation requiring the whole state to add fluoride to its water supplies to improve dental health is 60 years old ‘and a lot of science has passed under the bridge’ since then.

The court in Sydney unanimously rejected an appeal by anti-fluoride campaigner Al Oshlack to stop the construction of five fluoride-dosing plants in Lismore and Ballina  shires.

The plants are expected to be built by Rous Water and Ballina Shire and operating within 18 months at Knockrow, Clunes, Corndale and Dorroughby in Lismore shire and Marom Creek in Ballina shire.

Rous Water general manager Kyme Lavelle welcomed the decision, saying the court’s three judges had now ruled in favour of Rous Water and Ballina Shire Council’s decision two years ago to go ahead with the plants.

Mr Oshlack last year appealed an earlier decision of the NSW Land and Environment Court, which had dismissed his challenge to the move by Rous Water.

The NSW Department of Health had directed the local authorities to fluoridate water supplies in Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley shires.

The court also ordered Mr Oshlack to pay legal costs of Rous Water and Ballina Shire Council, which Mr Lavelle said was around half a million dollars and which would be pursued.

Lismore Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins has urged people against fluoridation to lobby their state MPs.

Cr Ekins told Echonetdaily a petition against the decision also would be launched on

‘Too slack’

‘The fluoridation act was passed in 1957 to have it done throughout the state, but governments have been just too slack to do it in the past 60 years,’ she said.

‘We need to review that in light of all the science that has been done since then.’

Cr Ekins she said the state Greens would be asking for a review of that legislation and they were considering a private members’ bill to that effect.

‘There’s been a lot of science under the bridge since then so the health department has been pretty slack on the uptake.’

She said water supply was costing taxpayers and ratepayers millions of dollars ‘so we’re better off paying for dentists in that case’.

Cr Ekins said only two per cent of domestic water supply was used for drinking ‘and the rest goes down the sewerage system’.

‘And we don’t know what effect it’s (fluoridated water) having downstream,’ she said.

Mr Lavelle told ABC north coast there was a possibility a challenge could be made to the High Court based on a technical point.

Mr Oshlack told APN Media he would be seeking legal advice before deciding whether to appeal the case further.

He said he was concerned the court had not looked into evidence about the health impacts of fluoride.

The decision to push ahead with fluoridation of water supplies, he said, was a political one and a referendum was needed similar to the recent Lismore council elections on the CSG issue ‘so the people can decide’.

Mr Lavelle said Rous Water would now proceed with the fluoridation of its water supply, with likely implementation by 2015.

Tenders would be called for the construction of the plants within the next few months, which could cost upwards of around $2 million.

He said the process to fluoridate water supplies ‘had been running for a couple of years now’.



11 responses to “Fluoride challenge rejected”

  1. Ash Thompson says:

    aren’t there fluoride tablets so that if those people who want to be dumbed down and believe the hype that we need fluoride can add it themselves ?? Why should we pay with our health for the 1% …

  2. Su-lee Ling says:

    What were the figures for & against fluoride in the already yuk-tasting water on the Northern Rivers..? This debate has been going for so long now…

    I agree w Vanessa Ekins-lets put the $$ into funding dental services & ppl can take fluoride tabs if they want to ingest more poison….their choice then-easy!!

    Al Oshlak needs a fund-raising tp help with those vicious costs—& bring on the petition on’ll sign it…

  3. Greg Dutton says:

    Let those who want fluoride in their drinking water add it themselves. I don’t want it and don’t want it forced into me and my family through the only water supply we have.

  4. Kevin says:

    There are a LOT of doctors / scientists around the world saying that Fluoridation is wrong.
    How unlike the courts to completely disregard health aspects.
    Absolute INSANITY!

  5. kristine coutts says:

    We, the people are paying for our water…we the people should decide about our water. If anyone wants fluoride for their teeth get it done at the dentist…do not ingest it…it is evidence based that fluoride is not to be ingested….we the people do not want to be poisoned!!

  6. Alanna says:

    I thought we where democratic country…how foolish of me!
    Why can’t those that want fluoride put there own poison in there own water if that’s what they want.

  7. Lorna Virgo says:

    As a 75 year old who was reared in Mullumbimby in the 1940’s, I would like to say Fluoridation of water supplies is essential for strong bones and good teeth.
    Growing up in Mullumbimby from the time, I was a primary school aged child, I had on going visits to the dentist MR W Smith. (Later Mayor of Mullumbimby.)
    Nothing stopped my teeth decaying and I remember the pain I experienced as a young child on these visits.
    When I married (I was still in Mullumbimby) and my children came along, we were encouraged to take the free Fluoride tablets during pregnancy, supplied (I think)from the Council. This was in the 1960’s.
    Living in Ballina in the 1970’s the water supply was then fluoridated so no more tablets of Fluoride were necessary.
    My last two pregnancies were, while living at Bangalow in the late 1970’s and the water wasn’t fluoridated so again I took the tablets while I was pregnant and also gave the fluoride to all my children up till the time they were aged 12 years of age.
    I had seven children.
    When my eldest daughter, then 18 years old, had to have a Medical and Dental examination prior to entering Nursing in 1983 she had no cavities in her teeth. She had never been to the Dentist.
    I was determined, rearing my children, that I would endeavour to do everything possible to give them a healthy start in life.
    I can’t understand why there is such resistance to Fluoride being added to the community water supplies when there are so many benefits for healthy living.
    My daughters are now in their 30’s and 40’s and all remain healthy.
    Signed Lorna Virgo

  8. Ian says:

    In a past life I was teaching maths and in year 8 I asked for doing graphs “how many holes in teeth” I remember results well 20 had zero 4 had 1 hole and one girl had 13. It was a useless exercise except it showed me the fluoride in Tamworth water supply sure worked.

    If you do not want your children to have fluoride water then give them tank water.

    I hope Rous Water pursue Mr Al Oshlack the half million costs as why should our Rous pay.

  9. Robyn Sparks says:

    So much better to empower children to look after their own dental hygiene than literally poison them, and everyone else and the environment with a toxic waste product. It doesn’t make sense. Who is making money out of this deal?

  10. Martin Elin says:

    By the way, I grew up in Europe, where most countries do NOT fluoridate their water supplies. Do europeans have more dental health problems than US and Australia?

    Fact: fluoride is not part of our biological make up or requirements for health.
    -Must not then the problem of poor dental health be rooted in either genetics (unlikely), environment, exposure to toxins, diet and/or lifestyle?

    Any toothed animal eating their natural diet in a clean environment will have good dental health, including humans. It is a mistake to believe that dental health was poor until fluoride came around. In fact, dental health was good until poor diet, in particular sugar and refined carbohydrates came around (Ref. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr Weston A. Price).

    I am inclined to respectfully have to say that holding the opinion that water supply should be fluoridated is based on misinformation and poor science. I would strongly advice to look outside of government sources and medical literature for unbiased information. A good start would be evidence based scientific studies.

    Mass medicating a population is absurd as we all agree that all individuals do not have the same medical requirements. What’s next – adding antibiotics during flu-season? Some wouldn’t even notice, while some would get very ill. Fluoride is no different, there are many that are allergic to fluoride, or that take other medication that should not be combined with fluoride.

    Anecdote: I know of many children, including my own, that have never been exposed to fluoride but have perfect dental health.

  11. Nina says:

    It’s interesting that the people writing the ‘for fluoride’ arguments have based there opinions on conjecture from their own lives and not very scientific information at all. If they don’t understand why the rest of us don’t want to have fluoride can I suggest that they actually look at the research that has convinced many European countries to ban fluoride from there water supplies. Regardless if you believe fluoride is evil or a teeth saver that is not the point. The argument is simple, it’s about choice. If you choose fluoride then use it in tablet form or your toothpaste.. and let the rest of us have the choice not to have anything to do with it. I do not want to wash in water that has chemical waste from the fertilizer and aluminium industry and that is where the fluoride compound for our water comes from. Please do some research before you start wanting the rest of us to be poisoned because you can’t be bothered taking a tablet. This is an issue of democracy and choice and not having things forced upon us. Our water should not be messed with, it should remain as pure as it can be and we as individuals should decide what else we add to it.

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