NSW Labor has introduced strong new fluoride laws to over-ride the anti-fluoride movement it claims has surfaced in parts of NSW like Gunnedah.
Gunnedah Shire Council (GSC) carried a motion to fluoridate the Gunnedah water supply during December’s council meeting late last year.
Labor’s proposed legislation will bring laws into effect which will give the NSW health minister additional powers to direct local councils and water authorities to add fluoride to their drinking water supply.
The introduction of the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Amendment into the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council by NSW shadow health minister Walter Secord, follows a lengthy debate in Gunnedah surrounding water fluoridation.
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- Australian Dental Association NSW supports water fluoridation
- Fluoride debate continues as dental association briefs council
- Submissions open on fluoridation of Gunnedah water supply proposal
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- Should fluoride be added to the town's water supply?
Fluoridation of Gunnedah’s water supply is expected to commence in 2020.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said he “is proud” of councils efforts to consult with the community on the issue of adding fluoride to Gunnedah’s water.
“I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on any potential policy that might come forward from any political party,” Cr Chaffey said.
“What I will say is I am very proud of the process council went through in terms of consultation with the community last year and the focus of our elected members and staff to be completely informed as we moved forward and made our decision.
“We’re confident the right decision has been made for our community.”
Mr Secord said in a statement the new legislation will provide greater dental health for future generations.
“Our nation’s children should not have to risk unnecessary tooth decay and dental problems,” Mr Secord said.
“The proposed new laws are sensible and give the health minister the power to direct a recalcitrant local water authority to put fluoride into the community’s drinking water.
“We owe it to the next generation to give them the best and healthiest start in life.”
The new laws will provide a number of measures including increasing the maximum penalty for offences under the Act (which includes the failure to comply with a direction to add fluoride to a public water supply) from $5,500 to $50,000 and from $550 to $5,000 for a maximum daily penalty for a continuing offence.
Mr Secord said “the community’s views are very clear on this issue”.
“They want fluoride in their drinking water and a tiny group of conspiracy theories should not hold the whole community to ransom,” he said.
“Fluoride is one of the great public health achievements and it is mind boggling that any group would oppose its introduction.”
Mr Secord added that the legislation still allowed for ministerial discretion, if a water system was too small or remote for fluoride or fluoride was naturally occurring.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson and It's OK to Say NO to fluoride in Gunnedah’s Water Facebook admin, Wendy Carpenter were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.