Chris Dobney & Hans Lovejoy
Veteran anti-fluoride campaigner Al Oshlack is considering mounting a High Court challenge to the practice Australia-wide, after the announcement this week that new dosing plants in Lismore and Ballina LGAs will go online next month.
The carefully worded press release from Rous Water made much of the benefits of fluoridation, yet did not mention Byron Shire had rejected it, nor referred to any opposition.
That includes protests and court cases against the move, led by Al Oshlack.
Mr Oshlack told Echonetdaily a big community forum is planned this Friday (July 31) at the Lismore Bowling Club from 6pm.
‘There will be food, music, information, speakers and the opportunity to formulate strategies to eliminate or lessen fluoride intake if the plants are turned on.
‘Also, a new association has formed: Fluoride Free Northern Rivers.
‘They are putting the forum on and have been collecting a petition calling for a community plebiscite.’
But despite losing a Supreme Court challenge against the fluoridation order in 2012 Mr Oshlack is considering a challenge to the highest court in the land: the High Court of Australia.
‘The association has been obtaining legal advice on a possible High Court challenge to the validity of the direction by the department of health compelling Rous Water to undertake mass medication of the Lismore and Ballina water supply,’ he said.
‘The constitution specifically prohibits the supply of medical or dental services if it involves “civil conscription”. Recent High Court judgments have given the interpretation of civil conscription a wide meaning,’ he added.
‘There was a case a few years back where the federal government tried to take over some hospitals in Tasmania and the move was opposed in the High Court on the ground of civil conscription,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘Although that case was lost, the judge said the meaning of civil conscription could include forced medication. Well what is fluoride if not forced medication?’
Mr Oshlack said that while the group was still getting legal advice about the possible move, any decision by the High Court would have nationwide implications.
‘If they decide it’s illegal, it’s not just illegal for Lismore and Ballina but the whole country,’ he said.
Mr Oshlack said fluoride’s defenders often drew a false analogy between fluoride and vaccination.
‘Vaccination may be mass medication but it’s not forced medication. They can take money away from you if you don’t vaccinate but they can’t force you to do it. But that’s not the case with fluoride,’ he told Echonetdaily. ‘You don’t get a choice.’
Ballina and Rous Water councillor Sue Meehan, who has spearheaded the move towards fluoridation, told local media she welcomed the news the new plants would soon be operational.
‘As a teacher of indigenous students and infant children, I’ve seen children who’ve had to have every tooth in their head taken out because of the problems with their teeth. I’ve had to refer children who had teeth were so rotten that they were really unhealthy with it,’ she told ABC radio this morning.
But Mr Oshlack said it was ‘a reflection on the sad state of local democracy when Sue Meehan starts to moralise on the need to force fluoride on the populace, when the community has been denied the right to, by way of a plebiscite, to have a say on this very important and controversial issue.’
Mr Oshlack said his earlier Supreme Court action was taken after councillors received a letter from ‘Australia’s leading legal firm’ telling them they would be financially liable if they voted against fluoridation.
Despite finding against him, Mr Oshlack said the court found the claims in the letter were false.
Some Echonetdaily readers have suggested that if authorities were really concerned about tooth decay in children, they should mandate to force soft-drink companies to add fluoride to their drinks, just as they add much sugar to them.
People also have the choice of buying toothpaste with fluoride.