State laws forbid Tweed Shire Council from ending fluoridation of its local water supply, health minister Jillian Skinner has said.
Ms Skinner said that it was legal for Byron or other councils that had not begun fluoridating their water to keep it out of their water supply if they wanted to but once they ‘went down that path’ there was no going back.
Tweed Greens councillor Katie Milne has put a notice of motion to this week’s council meeting to cease fluoridation of the shire’s water supply.
Ms Skinner told local media she would not be supporting the opposition’s bill to make water fluoridation into a state issue, effectively making it compulsory.
‘They can’t renege on fluoridation once it has started,’ Ms Skinner told ABC radio this morning, adding that Tweed Council ‘cannot reverse that decision. If fluoride is in the water, it cannot be reversed.
‘[Tweed Council] can have the debate but… the legislation says… that once fluoridation has begun it cannot be reversed.’
The issue will also be discussed at Byron’s council meeting on Thursday, with deputy mayor Diane Woods saying that Council needed to have an informed debate with ‘real information from real experts’.
‘Last time Council discussed it we had a five-minute talk against and a five-minute talk in favour of it in our public access,’ she told ABC radio.
‘I’d like to hear the real facts about why we shouldn’t do it and also the real facts about the benefits. We haven’t done that and we need to do it to be fully informed,’ she said.
She agreed that the health minister’s comments could muddy the waters if it meant Byron could never withdraw, but added, ‘I think we’ve got a different council and all of my colleagues have very open minds’.