GUNNEDAH Shire Council has approved plans to fluoridate the town’s water supply on the back of “overwhelming community support”.
But in a packed council chambers on Wednesday night, councillors voted in favour of requesting approval from NSW Health to commence fluoridation of the Gunnedah water supply.
Opponent Wendy Carpenter, who co-ordinated the ‘It’s OK to Say NO to fluoride in Gunnedah’s water’ campaign, addressed the meeting, stating 97 per cent of western world countries don’t fluoridate their water.
“It is a waste that is too toxic to be allowed into the air, the soil and the water,” she said.
“It is mass medication without consent.
“Don’t be known as the councillors who consented to put poison in our water.”
HOW IT UNFOLDED:
- Council challenges state on fluoridation
- Gunnedah Council and the NSW Department of Health to consult Gunnedah shire community about water fluoridation
- Fluoride in Gunnedah: poll shows residents split on fluoridation in Gunnedah Shire's water supply
- Gunnedah Shire Council, NSW Health call on community to comment on Gunnedah water fluoridation
- Members of the Australian Dental Association visit Gunnedah to brief Gunnedah Shire Council about adding fluoride to the water supply
- Fluoride supporters and opponents reach out to Gunnedah Shire Council ahead of final decision
Cr Murray O’Keefe, who moved the recommendation, conceded it was the most publicly-debated issue as a first-term councillor, and that he’d stop counting the number of people who’d asked him why Gunnedah doesn’t have fluoridated water.
“It’s best practise for our shire,” he said.
Cr Rob Hooke spoke in favour of the “very emotive debate”.
“In my capacity, I have a bachelor of applied science, majoring in biochemistry, human physiology and neurology, and some of the findings brought forward from the anti-fluoride camp… I found alarmingly questionable,” he said.
“By saying no to fluoridation, it’s like we’re refuting what the health experts and peak bodies are saying. None of us are experts in the room.”
Cr Gae Swain said she’d received correspondence and spoken to many people who supported fluoridation.
“Overwhelming, my community has told me as a council rep, just get on with it and do it,” she told the meeting.
“We’ve talked about this long enough.”
Mayor Jamie Chaffey thanked his councillors for their efforts in what had been “the biggest issue of contention we’ve had to deal with”.
“As elected members, the best we can do for our community is what we think is right for them by our conscience,” Cr Chaffey said before votes were cast.
Cr Owen Hasler spoke against the motion on the grounds of limited community consultation.