The state opposition health spokesperson Dr Andrew McDonald yesterday introduced a bill to give the state the power to force councils to fluoridate water.
Dr McDonald introduced the legislation less than 48 hours after the NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant was subject to abuse in the car park outside the the Lismore council chambers, following Tuesday night’s council meeting, which she addressed on the issue of fluoridation of the city’s water supply.
Dr McDonald referred to the unpleasant incident during his speech introducing the bill.
Dr McDonald told MPs Dr Chant was harassed as she left the meeting, with someone yelling ‘we know your face, I have friends in Syria. Do you know of Sarin gas?’
‘This is the chief medical officer, this should never happen again,’ Dr McDonald said in Parliament.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has condemned the unpleasant behaviour following the council meeting but said she did not believe it had triggered Dr McDonald’s decision to introduce the legislation.
‘I had been speaking to Andrew McDonald a month ago and understood that he was planning on this [bill]. I don’t think this had anything to do with the timing of it,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘But it is very unfortunate that someone with a strong anti-fluoride view would be so threatening and so personal.
‘And very unfortunate that someone within our community would do this and reinforce attitudes outside this community that we’re a pack of ratbags.’
Cr Dowell said she had since emailed the people who presented the pro-fluoride position and said, ‘I understand there was some abuse in the carpark following the meeting and on behalf of Council I apologise for that’.
Mayor Dowell said a large group had left the chamber at the same time. Conversations could be heard in loud voices, even from inside the chamber.
‘One woman within a very tight circle of people close to Kerry Chant was quite threatening. Kerry was dealing with it. Other people stepped in and encouraged the person who was being aggressive to move away.
‘The people were fine and shrugged it off but it wasn’t pleasant.’
Lismore MP Thomas George said he will also apologise over the incident.
‘This is not the first experience that bureaucrats or representatives of government departments or ministers have had in Lismore,’ he told ABC North Coast.
‘I’ve always provided people the opportunity for the right to have their say; however, the abuse that’s been levelled at Dr Kerry Chant is unacceptable.
‘I’m very embarrassed about it and I will apologise to her personally.’