By Darren Coyne
An anti-fluoride group in Lismore is hoping to bring down the entire Australian fluoride industry with a Federal Court challenge.
Solicitors working for Fluoride Free Northern Rivers have prepared a brief of evidence for the challenge, which has been sent to a barrister for an opinion.
FFNR legal consultant Al Oshlack said the barrister’s opinion would determine whether a successful challenge could be mounted in the Federal Court of Australia which could force state and local water authorities to shut down fluoride dosing plants.
Anti-fluoride activists had hoped that the Lismore City Council, like Byron Shire Council, would ban fluoride in the city’s water supply. But when the last council supported fluoride, after being directed by the state government to do so, FFNR has been left with no other option but to challenge the entire industry.
The legal brief focusses on the fact that fluoride compounds being used for water fluoridation are not registered therapeutic products or are exempt from registration under the Therapeutics Goods Act.
In correspondance between FFNR and the TGA, the TGA responded that: ‘Fluoridated drinking water is not therapeutic goods within the definition of that term in (the act). The (TGA) thus has no role in regulating fluoridated drinking water’.
In documents sighted by Echonetdaily, the TGA Regulatory Assistance Section wrote to the Queensland Safe Water group saying ‘fluoridated water is not (and cannot be) therapeutic goods for the purposes of the Act’.
‘The TGA is not the sole arbiter of what is or isn’t a therapeutic good –it is a matter of law and can be interpreted by a range of agents, including the courts,’ the TGA said.
The legal brief points to a 2011 TGA order allowing ‘substances for use in the …treatment of drinking water, providing no claims are made for therapeutic use’.
Mr Oshlack believes the TGA’s admissions show that claims by water authorities including Rous Water and the local pro fluoride lobby of the purported therapeutic value of water fluoridation are unlawful.
‘It is ironical that the unseemly spectacle of our local representatives by one vote overturning Lismore’s 50 year opposition against fluoride has been the catalyst for us to try and mount this Federal challenge to close down the Australian fluoride industry once for all,’ Mr Oshlack said.
‘In the last 12 months locally there has been systemic break down of the Corndale plant spilling highly concentrated fluoridated water, requiring full hazard suited workers to clean up.
‘Rous and Lismore Council have still not disclosed where and how this toxic water was disposed.’
The proposed Federal court challenge follows a survey of prospective councillors prior to the recent local government election.
FFNR spokesperson Leisa Webb said the results of the survey showed that a majority of the newly-elected council were against fluoride.
‘The makeup of the newly-elected Lismore Council from our pre-election candidate survey clearly indicates that the council has reverted to its traditional 50 year position of opposing water fluoridation,’ she said.
Prior to the election, Isaac Smith, Elly Bird, Greg Bennett, Vanessa Ekins all said they were opposed to fluoride, while Cr Neil Marks and Ginapiero Battista voted in support during the term of the last council. Activists believe newly-elected councillors Adam Guise, Darlene Cook, Eddie Lloyd and Nancy Casson would make up a majority against fluoride if they supported the position taken by the heads of their electoral groups.
‘The success of conservative councillor Greg Bennett could be explained by his opposition to fluoridation at the expense of the National Party pro fluoride advocate Cr Neil Marks,’ Ms Webb said.
But with a local government vote on the issue unlikely again in Lismore, the activists say they have no choice but to target the entire industry.
Mr Oshlack said it was hoped that the challenge would be lodged with the Federal Court by the end of the year following advice from the barrister.