A majority of Ballina shire councilors have rejected a push to hold a community poll on whether residents want their water supply fluoridated.
Cr Jeff Johnson, who is running as an independent in the state election, had proposed the poll in a notice of motion at yesterday’s council meeting.
‘It is my personal opinion that introducing fluoride to the water supply is not the best way to improve dental hygiene,’ Cr Johnson said.
‘Council would be much better off allocating a proportion of the $100,000 annual cost towards an educational program in conjunction with the schools.
‘The most important aspect here is diet and behavior.
‘If council was serious about reducing tooth decay, it would be championing an educational program within our community and schools.’
In speaking for his motion, Cr Johnson said there had been no community consultation on the matter.
‘The submissions were very much in the negative,’ he said.
He argued that community polls at election time provided the most cost effective way to determine the community’s priorities or position on such important local issues.
‘I would like community polls to become a regular feature of local government elections, indeed all elections, to give the community the chance to vote on specific issues rather than simply voting for a politician to make all the decisions on their behalf,’ he said.
Crs Keith Williams and Ken Johnson supported Cr Johnson’s bid for a poll, but the other seven councilors voted it down.
Cr Ken Johnson said he was pro-flouride but said an election day poll would be a good way to guage the opinion of residents on fluoride, and potentially other issues of importance.
Cr Williams said his opposition to fluoride was based on human rights and questions of consent.
Meanwhile, Cr Jeff Johnson also argued that ‘pro- fluoride advocates would have you believe that the whole world is fluoridating their water except for Ballina’. ‘The fact is that many jurisdictions have never introduced fluoride and quite a number who did are having it removed,’ he said.
Rous Water is currently building four plants that will provide fluoridated water to a majority of residents in the region.
It is anticipated that the construction will be completed around Easter 2015.
Ballina is constructing a fluoride plant at Marom Creek water treatment plant to supply fluoridated water to Wardell.
Fluoridated water will also be supplied to most town water customers in the Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley Council areas.
After losing the motion, Cr Johnson took a swipe at the decision of Ballina mayor David Wright to support fluoride.
‘It was interesting to note that Cr Wright didn’t support the proposed poll yet told the meeting after the debate that “there is no one more against fluoride that me”.
‘It’s quite ironic for the mayor to make that statement while at the same time not supporting a community poll.
‘Mayor Wright also previously supported the proposal to introduce fluoride without any community consultation. One has to ask, why does the mayor vote in a way that is inconsistent with his beliefs and comments?’