Councillors hand fluoride decision to residents

THE decision on whether or not the water supply of the Southern Downs will remain fluoridated will now be made by the people who drink the water after councillors decided the decision was not really their's to make.

It was a petition from the Save Our Shire Action Group that resulted in the council having the fluoride debate during their meeting on Tuesday.

Councillor Vic Pennisi was quick to enter the debate, stating he was happy to remove fluoride from Stanthorpe's water supply.

However he was unable to gain any support.

Cr Jamie Mackenzie then suggested the council ask the people affected what they want to happen.

Cr Neil Meiklejohn was still not impressed with this situation.

"I am not voting against this motion because I don't think there should be proper community consultation, I am voting against it because I believe it is a low-cost to continue fluoridating the water and it has a great public health benefit," Cr Meiklejohn said.

Cr Meiklejohn said he believed a motion in Stanthorpe should not dictate what the whole region did.

"I don't think groups from outside of the area should be making decisions for us," Cr Meiklejohn said.

"Council wants decisions to be made by the relevant community."

Cr Denise Ingram shared his thoughts.

Southern Downs Dental dentist Mike Geisel said he too was in favour of keeping fluoride in the water.

"My opinion is the same as the World Health Organisation and any other major organisation in the world," Mr Geisel said.

"Fluoride in water is safe, healthy, effective and cheap.

"Fluoride prevents teeth decay, which is one of the major benefits of it.

"I have certainly noticed a positive difference in the level of decay in my patients' teeth since fluoride was introduced into the water in the region."

Mr Geisel said removing fluoride from the water would cause various problems for people's teeth.

"Pain, infections and loss of ability to eat are some of the main things that can happen with a lack of fluoride," he said.

"Each year, around 2000 pre-schoolers need to be hospitalised for severe teeth decay. Every time they undergo a general anaesthetic it's a risk to their life and it's a big procedure with a big cost."

However, Mr Geisel said it was not only children who benefited from fluoride.

"The truth is it benefits anybody with teeth," he said.

"But it has a particular benefit for elderly people in nursing homes who cannot brush their teeth like they used to; rampant decay is a huge problem with older people and fluoride helps that.

"The way I see it, there are two choices - stick with water fluoridation which has been used safely for over 60 years, or withdraw it and suffer unnecessary inconvenience, pain and expenses."

When the vote was put on the table Cr Mackenzie, Cr Cameron Gow, Cr Pennisi, Cr Ross Bartley and Cr McNally were for the community consultation process.

However before the consultation process begins a report will be put together for the council outlining the various ways to conduct the survey and the costs involved with each option.

The survey will be distributed to all residents across the Southern Downs who are connected to fluoridated water.

Myths (according to the Queensland Department of Health)

Fluoride:

  •  Causes cancer, allergies and arthritis;
  •  Is bad for babies;
  •  Is mass medication.


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